A Veterinary Pathologist with the Western College of Veterinary Medicine says this year’s warm spring appears to be helping pigs avoid contracting the flu.
Influenza or flu is a respiratory infection that affects multiple species including pigs and humans.
Dr. Susan Detmer, an Associate Professor in the Department of Veterinary Pathology with the Western College of Veterinary Medicine, says the type of flu we had in humans in North America this winter started out being the pandemic strain which hit over December and early January followed by an H3N2 peak and, in pigs, we started seeing the pandemic strain at the tail end of last year’s human flu season but it didn’t peak in pigs until this winter.
Typically we have two peaks both in pigs and in humans. The first peak usually hits by late November into December and the second peak is usually March-April. They did see more of that trend in the humans this year. We did not see as much of a second peak in pigs this year and that has a lot to do with the high virulence and rapid spread of the pandemic virus in the pigs. When you get a new virus introduced into a population of pigs, that virus tends to take over and push everything aside so we didn’t see as much of the natural double peak that we normally would see.
We’re still waiting for the end of April. A few years ago we had a late April-May peak so it could still happen but fortunately the weather has improved and ventilation has gone up on pigs farms. When they have more ventilation going through the barns they have fresher air going through and it helps relieve those flu symptoms and respiratory diseases.
~ Dr. Susan Detmer, Western College of Veterinary Medicine
Dr. Detmer says, when we have a nice spring like we’ve had this year with nice warm weather, we tend to see less respiratory diseases.