I am not going to engage in speculation as to the index case (source) of this H1N1 virus strain, also known as swine flu. What is clear is that parts of the virus are made up of gene segments which have commonality with human, avian and swine influenza. We know that in recent months large populations of animals have been found to be responsible for incubating and enhancing influenza mutation. Avian flu, it seems, is absolutely linked to “industrialized production” and swine flu has been known to circulate in the hog population. Currently evidence is developing that the source case may be in Mexico.
Because our farmers keep their animals in open space, the animals are, by virtue of their stress-free lives, less likely to have compromised immune systems. Animals on Animal Welfare Approved farms are healthy and there is little likelihood of our herds catching any disease. Healthy animals, without stress, fed a balanced diet, have well-functioning immune systems. As responsible farmers, we must protect our animals, family and friends from exposure to this disease by continuing to practice our normal bio-security procedures.
Here are a few reminders for farmers:
- Refrain from allowing people or animals to wander from farm to farm and pen to pen. If this is necessary, people should change their clothing, clean their boots, equipment and vehicles and thoroughly wash themselves.
- Keep clear records of visitors to the farm and their vehicle details.
- Think carefully about travelling, particularly into areas that have any record of a case or suspected case of the flu.
Some key points for consumers:
- “There is no evidence to show that swine influenza can be transmitted through food.” www.cdc.gov.
- Simple hygiene practices, like hand washing, minimizing direct bodily fluid contact, and eating a healthy balanced diet will go a long way to protect against all influenza. We have a great immune system when we are healthy.
- Don’t travel unless you have to, just like in any flu season.
- Younger and older people have the weakest immune systems.
- If you feel flu-like symptoms check with your doctor.
We are working diligently with our contacts to stay abreast of this breaking event. The team is here to support our farmers and friends so please let us know if you have any specific concerns or questions.