The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has recently released a report, “Update: Influenza A (H3N2)v Transmission and Guidelines — Five States, 2011” with updated information on new nomenclature for influenza A (H3N2) viruses in swine and case reports of human illness. The report also provides an overview of the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s swine influenza virus (SIV) surveillance program along with data on influenza A (H3N2)v viruses in swine.

Veterinarians (and their producers) should take note of this because one of the cases of human illness involved a person with daily contact with swine (other cases did not involve swine contact). An editorial note in the December 23rdMorbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR) says that work exposure highlights the risk for interspecies influenza transmission in occupational settings where humans are exposed to swine.

Swine workers are encouraged to 1) get vaccinated against human seasonal influenza, 2) wear appropriate persona protective equipment, and 3) practice good hygiene, such as washing hands thoroughly with soap and water, when in contact with swine, especially swine that show signs of illness. These same recommendations can be made for veterinarians who may come in contact with swine operations.

Persons with swine exposure in the week before onset of an illness with symptoms of influenza requiring medical care should notify their health-care provider of their swine exposures. Persons who develop symptoms of influenza after close contact with swine are recommended to stay home until well to minimize contact with persons and swine as much as possible.

The MMWR indicates that these viruses carry a newly identified combination of genes, and little information is available regarding transmission efficiency in swine, in humans, or between swine and humans. However, the recent human cases involving swine exposure and results of SIV surveillance indicate that these viruses also currently are circulating in swine herds.

Read the full report here.