Influenza A in pigs

All pig producers have a responsibility to manage biosecurity risks on their properties. You can take steps to proactively protect your pig herd and workers from influenza A.

Educate your workers

Your workers should know the signs of influenza A and know how to protect themselves and others from this disease. You should provide your workers with information about:

  • influenza A in pigs
  • good biosecurity practice and personal hygiene, including hand washing
  • how to recognise clinical signs of influenza A in pigs and who to tell
  • what to do if they are unwell or showing symptoms consistent with influenza
  • how to reduce the spread of influenza A between pigs and humans.

Manage illness in staff

As influenza A may be transmitted from humans to pigs, managing staff with symptoms consistent with influenza is important. You should:

  • Establish, implement and enforce a strict sick leave policy for workers with symptoms consistent with influenza. Symptoms include fever, sore throat, coughing, headache, muscle or joint pain, tiredness or extreme exhaustion.
  • Encourage staff, especially those in contact with pigs, to notify you immediately if they develop symptoms consistent with influenza.
  • Prevent anyone with symptoms consistent with influenza from coming to the piggery until they are no longer unwell or showing symptoms consistent with influenza.
  • Recommend people with symptoms consistent with influenza see a doctor.

Request staff get an influenza vaccine

Vaccination for seasonal influenza virus every year is recommended for all people in contact with pigs, including piggery workers and family members who live on-site at piggeries, transporters and abattoir workers.

Manage farm visitors

Visitors can inadvertently introduce influenza A to your piggery. To reduce introducing influenza A from visitors:

  • Limit visitors to your farm. Ideally visitors should only be allowed on the piggery for essential purposes, such as to provide veterinary consultations and advice.
  • Maintain a register and ask visitors to sign a declaration confirming they:
    • have showered and changed clothes since their last exposure to pigs
    • are not experiencing symptoms consistent with influenza
    • have met or exceeded the required time period between piggery visits.

Manage other biosecurity risks

While managing illness in staff, encouraging staff to obtain seasonal influenza vaccination and managing visitors to the piggery are key biosecurity management practices, other practices to implement include:

  • Keeping non-farm vehicles outside the piggery.
  • Implementing a policy which does not permit piggery staff to own or work with other pigs.
  • Assessing the health of any pigs coming to the piggery, apply quarantine practices until they are deemed safe to enter the herd and prevent those pigs assessed as unsuitable from joining the herd.
  • Inspecting the herd for unusual signs of disease.
  • Reporting any pig health problems to your veterinarian.
  • Reporting suspicion of the presence of influenza A in pigs to Biosecurity Queensland on 13 25 23 or the Emergency Animal Disease Watch Hotline on 1800 675 888.

Where influenza A is suspected or confirmed in a herd, workers contacting sick animals should:

  • use dedicated PPE
  • wear protective face masks (surgical face masks or preferably P2/N95 respirators) eye protection and disposable gloves as a minimum
  • clean and disinfect any contaminated piggery equipment leaving the piggery
  • clean and disinfect themselves immediately before exiting the piggery
  • follow the advice of their private veterinarian and Biosecurity Queensland.

Practice good hygiene

Practicing good hygiene is a simple and effective way to prevent introduction and spread of influenza A. You should:

  • Provide and maintain hand washing facilities and encourage staff to wash hands with soap and water or apply an alcohol-based hand-rub on hands even if they are not visibly soiled:
    • after contact with pigs or their environment
    • after handling equipment used in the management of pigs
    • before eating, drinking or smoking
    • after removal of farm clothing, farm footwear or personal protective equipment (PPE).
  • Clean reusable PPE, clothing and footwear.
  • Maintain the piggery in a clean and hygienic condition, including:
    • pig handling and housing areas
    • pig transporting and holding areas
    • transport and equipment used with pigs
    • worker's eating, rest and communal areas
    • worker’s shower and toilet facilities.

Further information