Should Porky Pig get a swine-flu shot?

Should Porky Pig get a swine-flu shot? That’s a question Canada’s food-safety watchdog pondered this spring after an Alberta hog farmer’s herd caught the H1N1 virus, a newly released document shows.

OTTAWA — Should Porky Pig get a swine-flu shot?

That’s a question Canada’s food-safety watchdog pondered this spring after an Alberta hog farmer’s herd caught the H1N1 virus, a newly released document shows.

An internal report from the Canadian Food Inspection Agency suggests officials considered sticking pigs with a special swine-flu needle to stop the virus from spreading through herds.

“Vaccination can be a useful tool for control and eradication of emerging diseases as an alternative to large-scale slaughter and disposal of ‘at risk’ animals,” the report says.

The report was sent to the agency’s top veterinary officer and its president April 25 — four days after the Alberta pigs started showing flu-like symptoms.

The Canadian Press obtained the document under the Access to Information Act.

Pigs can catch flu viruses from infected pigs and people, mostly from coughing and sneezing. But there’s no proof people can get the H1N1 virus from pigs or eating pork.

Little was known about the novel strain of the H1N1 virus as the food-inspection agency mulled swine-flu shots for pigs.

The outbreak at the farm near Rocky Mountain House, Alta., was the first-ever report of the new virus in pigs, and the source of the infection remains a mystery.

The food-inspection agency held conference calls with animal-health experts this spring at the height of the Alberta farm incident.

At the time, agency officials thought vaccinating pigs might help stop the spread of the virus, said Cate Dewey, who teaches swine health management and epidemiology at the University of Guelph and was on some of the calls.

“That was some of the early discussion: ‘My goodness, if pigs are going to be a source of infection for people, we’d better vaccinate pigs so that we don’t have this huge problem with people,”’ Dewey said.

There was talk of making a special H1N1 vaccine for pigs, she added. But those plans were dropped when health officials found pigs weren’t making people sick.

Vaccinating pigs against flu viruses is common. Some U.S. drug companies make flu vaccines for pigs that are licensed in Canada, which are sort of like seasonal flu shots for pigs.

The agency’s report also cites industry statistics showing half of Canadian sows are vaccinated against various flu viruses.

The document says pigs may be “highly vulnerable” to bird and human strains of flu viruses, especially if a new strain infects the herd.

But the report also found vaccinating pigs isn’t always the best way to stop the virus from spreading through a herd.

That’s partly because it takes pigs a few days to build up immunity to the virus after they get the shot.

Just Posted

Fenced-off SCS site development approved by Red Deer city council for seven years

‘Sunset clause’ means a new permit will be needed in 2025

Growing drug-fuelled emergencies at Red Deer’s Buffalo transitional housing complex

City council approves two additional mental health staffers at complex

Bystanders help Innisfail Mountie make arrest

A 35-year-old Ottawa man is facing a number of charges including resisting arrest

More supports for homeless needed for Red Deer

Provincial funding recently announced for Lethbridge

Second Central Alberta born jaguar dies

Mia’s brother Magnum dead at Discovery Wildlife Park

Orlando SC acquires Canadian Tesho Akindele in trade with FC Dallas for cash

ORLANDO, Fla. — Canadian forward Tesho Akindele was traded to Orlando City… Continue reading

Koskinen notches third shutout, McDavid gets winner as Oilers blank Flames 1-0

EDMONTON — The Edmonton Oilers appear to have shored up their defence… Continue reading

Beyonce performs at pre-wedding party in India

Beyonce brought her star power to a pre-wedding party for the daughter… Continue reading

Kirk Douglas celebrates 102nd birthday

LOS ANGELES — Actor Kirk Douglas got to celebrate his 102nd birthday… Continue reading

Ellen Page steps up attack on Nova Scotia pulp mill’s effluent pipeline

HALIFAX — Hollywood actor Ellen Page is doubling down on her criticism… Continue reading

Pence aide out of running to be Trump’s next chief of staff

WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump’s top pick to replace chief of staff… Continue reading

Swath of South faces wintry mess: Snow, sleet, freezing rain

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — A massive storm brought snow, sleet, and freezing rain… Continue reading

‘I killed my best friend’: Opioids’ fatal grip on mayor, pal

MOUNT CARBON, Pa. — Janel Firestone found her son — the 24-year-old,… Continue reading

Most Read