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COVID-19 control efforts appear to be containing swine flu

Vet finds that efforts to contain the spread of the coronavirus are helping slow the transmission of influenza among both humans and pigs.

6 June 2020, at 7:00am

The Western College of Veterinary Medicine has completed a summary of seasonal influenza over the past two years.
Dr Susan Detmer, an Associate Professor in the Department of Veterinary Pathology with the Western College of Veterinary Medicine, says COVID-19 has presented an interesting scenario.

Speaking to Farmscape, she explains:

"With less movement of people, even between the provinces in Canada, we're actually seeing less disease and less transmission. There's still movements of pigs and we do see viruses move with the movement of pigs. We are seeing that happen, the viruses are on these farms so they're not going to just disappear.

"But we do expect to see less influenza in people so long as they're doing their social distancing, they're not interacting with large groups, they're not travelling on planes. All of that is going to hopefully benefit the pigs this fall.

"We'll see what happens but it is something that some of us are keeping an eye on because, this time of year it's southern hemisphere. Australia, South America, those areas where flu is transmitting still because it's their winter time, what comes back to us come next fall, we'll if that is any different.

"If there's less virus being transmitted in Australia because they're trying to stop the Coronavirus from transmitting as well, then we could actually have a better fall flu season because people are not interacting at the levels that they normally would."

Dr Detmer says all of those steps to reduce the spread of COVID-19, staying home when sick, self isolating, creating bubbles around families, wearing facemasks, are all going to help stop the spread of other respiratory viruses like influenza.