Pandemic H1N1 influenza (H1N1pdm09), also known as 'swine flu', may affect people, swine, and turkeys on rare occasion. In 2009, this virus was new and spread rapidly around the world, creating an influenza pandemic in humans. H1N1pdm09 is now considered endemic – a regularly occurring influenza strain.
How to report
If you suspect swine influenza in your herd, call your veterinarian within 24 hours.
Swine influenza in pigs and wild boars is a provincially notifiable disease under Alberta’s Animal Health Act. This means that while no response would be taken, it is important enough to monitor.
All suspected or confirmed cases must be reported to the Office of the Chief Provincial Veterinarian (OCPV) within 24 hours:
Hours: 8:15 am to 4:30 pm (open Monday to Friday, closed statutory holidays)
Toll free: 310-0000 before the phone number (in Alberta)
After business hours: 1-800-524-0051
If you own pigs or poultry, watch your animals closely for clinical signs of influenza. Symptoms may vary from mild to severe.
If your swine show these signs, call your veterinarian immediately:
- lack of appetite
- coughing or other signs of upper respiratory tract infection
- sows may experience abortions
See Avian influenza for clinical signs of influenza in poultry.
Where it’s found
H1N1pdm09 affects humans, pigs, wild boars, and turkeys in rare occasions.
The first farm case of H1N1pdm09 identified in Alberta was reported in 2009, at the same time the first cases were found in Canadians. An outbreak at an Alberta pig farm resulted in the culling of 3,000 swine. For more information, see Pandemic H1N1 2009 Pig Farm Outbreak – Lessons Learned (CFIA).
Since then, other cases have been reported across Canada. Today the culling of animals is no longer considered necessary when cases are reported, as more is known about H1N1pdm09 and how it affects animals.
How it spreads
H1N1pdm09 is generally mild, with limited spread from animals to people. It can spread from:
- people to pigs, and pigs to people
- people to turkeys (rarely)
- people to chickens (highly unlikely)
Risk to humans
Humans are susceptible to H1N1pdm09 and should take standard health precautions around sick people or animals.
H1N1pdm09 is not transmitted through consumption of animal meat or meat products.
Prevention and control
To protect your animals, do not allow people who are experiencing influenza symptoms or respiratory ailments to enter your swine or poultry barn for 7 days after symptoms have disappeared.
Swine that test positive for H1N1pdm09 are not quarantined. Farmers are expected to work with their veterinarians to handle an outbreak in their pigs as they would for any other influenza virus. However, after a farmer or veterinarian reports an outbreak, information is collected by the OCPV to monitor the amount and severity of H1N1pdm09.
Follow biosecurity procedures designed to reduce the chances of your animals becoming sick.
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