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Answering questions about H1N1
Buckeye Farm News
Ohio Farm Bureau’s Center for Food and Animal Issues recently issued a briefing to help farmers address the H1N1 influenza virus.
“There was a lot of information already available from various sources,” said Leah Dorman, the Center’s director of food programs. “Our goal was to develop a single guide to help farmers answer questions.”
The one-page briefing, which includes input from the veterinary and public health communities, includes background on H1N1and how pigs can be monitored and protected from the virus. It was distributed during Farm Science Review.
“We are not seeing the 2009 H1N1 virus being spread from pigs to people. The risk is that people would spread the virus to the animals or others,” Dorman said.
Symptoms of H1N1 in pigs can include sudden fever, depression, coughing, discharge from the eyes or nose, sneezing, breathing difficulties, eye redness or inflammation and going off feed.
Hog farmers are encouraged to intensify existing bio-security protocols through practices such as limiting access to barns, enforcing strict leave policies for workers who have developed influenza like symptoms, maintaining proper ventilation and temperature in barns, not sharing equipment with other farms, isolating new animal arrivals and providing workers with training and protective equipment including gloves, safety goggles and a properly fitted N95 respirator.
“A lot of people think a dust mask is a dust mask,” Dorman said. “The N95 respirator has a filter that can reduce the risk of transmitting small particles such as viruses.”
The briefing is also intended to help farmers share factual information about the H1N1 virus.
“This is not a food issue, but it’s the perception that it’s a food issue that concerns us. When the media refers to H1N1 as swine flu, consumers may question the safety of pork. But this is in no way a food safety issue,” Dorman said.
Read the briefing.
Advisory Council Questions: H1N1 continues to receive a lot of media attention. It is often misidentified as “Swine Flu” and this has caused confusion among many consumers. What can we, as an agricultural community, do to ensure that the media, the consumer and government agencies are using the proper terminology? Share your answers on the Ohio Farm Bureau Facebook Advisory Discussion Board.