US pork industry workers urged to get flu shots

by Meat&Poultry Staff
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DES MOINES, Iowa – The Pork Checkoff is advising producers, farm personnel and others who have contact with pigs to get the seasonal flu vaccination as soon as possible to help protect human and pig health.

"It's always wise for producers and swine farm workers to reduce the risk of getting sick and bringing the flu to the farm or workplace by getting vaccinated," said Jennifer Koeman, director of producer and public health for the Pork Checkoff. "It also demonstrates the industry's 'We Care' approach to protecting employees, animals and public health."

All people over the age of 6 months of age should be immunized for influenza each year, according to the US Department of Health and Human Services.

"People may remain contagious for up to five to seven days after getting sick," Koeman said. "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."

Good building ventilation and good hygiene can help reduce transmission of flu viruses at both the farm level and plant level.

"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 said.

"It's very important to monitor your herd's health daily and contact your herd veterinarian if influenza is suspected,” said Lisa Becton, Pork Checkoff's director of swine health information and research. “Rapid detection of influenza can help producers and their veterinarians implement appropriate strategies to better manage sick pigs."

For more general flu-related information, visit www.cdc.gov/flu. The Pork Checkoff also has a factsheet on influenza, "Influenza: Pigs, People and Public Health."
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