Even though the flu season is now in full force, the Pork Checkoff still recommends producers, farm personnel and others who have contact with pigs get the seasonal flu vaccination as soon as possible to help protect human and pig health.
“It's never too late to get a flu vaccination that can help reduce the risk of getting sick and bringing the flu to the farm or workplace,” says Jennifer Koeman, director of producer and public health for the Pork Checkoff. “It also demonstrates the industry's 'We Care' ethical principle is in action to help protect employees, animals and public health.”
According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, all people over the age of 6 months of age should be immunized for influenza each year.
“People may remain contagious for up to five to seven days after getting sick,” Koeman says. “That's why it's so crucial that employers have a sick-leave policy that encourages those experiencing symptoms of influenza-like illness to stay home.”
At the farm level, good building ventilation and good hygiene can help reduce transmission of flu viruses.
“To prevent pigs and humans from other species' influenza viruses, producers also should look at bird-proofing their buildings, protecting feed from birds and enforcing biosecurity practices, such as the use of farm-specific clothing and footwear,” Koeman says.