The Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) is reminding pig producers to take “appropriate” measures to protect their animals from the H3N2 variant virus, which has swept through the US in recent weeks.
According to the CFIA, pig producers need to look at biosecurity measures to protect the health of their stock and the health of people who may come into contact with it.
The virus has not yet been found circulating in Canada, but CFIA said that its emergence in the US was a “strong reminder of the importance of practising on-farm biosecurity and spotting the signs of disease early”.
The H3N2 variant does not need to be reported to the authorities in Canada, but CFIA said it was monitoring the situation closely in collaboration with the Public Health Agency (PHA), which has issued a Public Health Notice of precaution.
Despite the seasonal flu vaccine not protecting people against the H3N2 variant, the PHA recommended that people who have regular contact with pigs should receive it. The health body also warned people who are ill to stay away from pigs to prevent infection.
However, the CFIA said the best way to prevent infection was through effective on-farm biosecurity to stop the introduction of the disease, as well as limiting the spread of it. This includes proper cleaning of barns, equipment, clothing and footwear, as well as identifying and segregating sick pigs.
It added that the Canadian Swine Health Board has developed a tool called the National Swine Farm-Level Biosecurity Standard, which can assist producers to implement biosecurity on farms.
In addition to safeguards on the farm, CFIA said that Cananda's “stringent” state border measures would help prevent the disease entering the national herd.
Over 288 people have been infected with the H3N2 variant virus in the US since July 2012, with 15 hospitalisations and one death. Investigations have revealed that exposure to pigs is the main risk factor, with the virus apparently able to spread more easily from pigs to people than other variants of the virus.