Posted: Thu Sep 03, 2009 10:21 am Post subject: Vaccine may protect pigs from human swine flu
The U.S. Department of Agriculture has given several animal vaccine manufacturers the "master seed virus" from the swine flu strain now circulating among humans. At least one of the companies said Wednesday it's developing a vaccination for pigs, which can contract the virus from infected people - in much the same way people do.
Flu viruses pass from human to hog mostly from coughing and sneezing, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
A pig vaccine would help livestock producers prevent their animals from getting the novel H1N1 strain commonly called swine flu, as well as help thwart the development of other flu strains that could endanger humans and animals in the future.
Pigs, which also are susceptible to avian and human flu strains, are considered mixing vessels where the viruses can mutate together into novel variations.
While enormous demand is expected when the human swine flu vaccination is released this fall, the jury's still out on how much demand there will be for a pig vaccine. Clifford said the USDA, which is responsible for approving any swine flu vaccinations for pigs, will not require hog farmers to vaccinate against the human strain.
Instead, officials will encourage hog farmers to vaccinate their animals in response to any swine flu outbreaks in U.S. pig herds.
A soft hog market, however, has many farmers pinching pennies, so it could take severe outbreaks, or ones close to home, to persuade them to spend money on a new vaccine.
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