Manitoba pigs are traditionalists when it comes to H1N1, the classic swine influenza virus.
Hogs in the province have an old strain, which makes it harder to control with vaccines.
“Commercial vaccines don’t carry this classic H1 strain anymore,” said Blaine Tully, a veterinarian with Swine Health Professionals in Steinbach.
“Finding a flu vaccine that’s going to protect against the strains we have in Manitoba becomes challenging.”
He told the recent Manitoba Swine Seminar that current vaccines are based on the main forms of swine influenzas in the Midwest United States, which have mutated away from the original forms.
Diseases aren’t as susceptible to vaccines based on earlier forms if they evolve, so the vaccines are regularly updated. As a result, older strains are not generally protected against if they are no longer the main causes of disease in the prime area for which the vaccines are designed.
That leaves areas such as Manitoba, on the fringe of the hog production zone, without vaccines specifically tailored for local conditions.
Tully said researchers have made significant advances in controlling diseases such as circovirus, which just a few years ago was ravaging North American herds. At one time, keeping deaths from a circovirus outbreak down to five or six percent was considered a success, but now that death rate would be considered a problem.
“We’re getting better with the tools we have,” said Tully.
However, he said two other diseases are easier to control and eradicate: PMS and PPMS.
Tully showed the swine seminar a slide of poor-looking pigs and said they didn’t have a traditional disease, Instead, they were suffering from what he called poor management syndrome. The hogs were simply chilled by poor control of heating in the barn.
When it’s really badly done, he calls it piss-poor management syndrome.
“In a winter like we’re experiencing now, with the temperature up and down, it’s sometimes pretty tricky to get it right every day, but we need to try,” he said.