Most veterinarians agree that swine influenza or H1N1 is an increasing problem for pig producers, according to a survey recently conducted by Merial Animal Health. Only 8 percent of those interviewed said that in their experience the number of cases of swine influenza had stayed the same over the last five years, while 92 percent agreed that it had increased.
Views varied on the exact reasons for this apparent increase. These included better diagnostics, and increased reporting by pig producers. However, a number pointed at specific recent outbreaks which have driven the increase.
Most of those questioned - 60 percent - agreed that vaccination against swine influenza makes good economic sense. This was borne out by the number agreeing or agreeing strongly that the UK industry should take swine influenza more seriously, which amounted to 77 percent of the sample.
Nick Munce, Merial's Pig Business & Technical Manager said: "This survey demonstrates that the majority of veterinarians recognize the economic benefits of vaccination against swine influenza."
Some 77 percent of those interviewed agreed that swine influenza is a production disease that can affect reproduction, average daily weight gain and feed conversion ratios. In terms of controlling the disease biosecurity and a variety of vaccination strategies featured on most vets' lists.
Vets were asked to estimate the current prevalence of swine influenza in the English national herd and the average figure was around 44 percent. Research published in 2010 showed that 59 per cent of the 146 farms surveyed had at least one pig positive for the H1N1, H1N2 or H3N2 influenza viruses1.
Gripovac 3 is currently the only swine influenza vaccine licensed for the UK. It provides protection against the most common influenza strains - H3N2, H1N1 and H1N2.
1 Towards risk-based surveillance for swine influenza virus. Barbara Wieland*, Alexander Mastin*, Dirk U. Pfeiffer*, The COSI Consortium***Royal Veterinary College, Hatfi eld, **Combating Swine Influenza Initiative Consortium, Cambridge, UK. 21st International Pig Veterinary Society congress, Vancouver, Canada, 2010.