Influenza-A is a common illness in pigs. They sneeze, have runny noses, teary eyes, and a general malaise that makes them feel as bad as us when we have the flu. The viruses can result in high rates of illness in a herd, but few deaths. It takes about a week for a sick animal to fully recover.
Greg Cline is a veterinarian with Boehringer Ingelheim. He says influenza is a tough organism to deal with.
"It’s very easily transmitted from pig-to-pig, but we also need to be aware that the virus can come in on the wind, it can be aerosolized. The virus can also be introduced to pigs from contaminated equipment," says Cline. "So, a lot of different ways that the virus can be introduced, and it’s difficult to control because this is a virus that can change over time. It makes our control practices extremely difficult."
There are vaccines on the market, but they’re not 100% effective. And, they have to closely match the strain of virus that’s on the farm.
"So, I really recommend that you work with your herd veterinarian to design an adequate biosecurity program looking at the infection chain from the replacement gilt status, the sow herd status, the nursery and the finishing status, to reduce the opportunity for that virus to one, be introduced, or two, to continue to circulate within that population," says Cline.
Good nursing care will reduce the animals’ discomfort, and keep them on-feed and performing. Once pigs have the flu, they will be immune to that particular strain, but there can be more than one flu virus circulating in the herd.