Pig producers' perceptions of the Influenza Pandemic H1N1/09 outbreak and its effect on their biosecurity practices in Australia

Marta Hernandez-Jover, Melanie Taylor, Patricia Holyoake, Navneet Dhand

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

27 Citations (Scopus)


However, approximately one third of producers reported beingfinancially and emotionally stressed, 38.2% were distressed about the health of their pigsand 16.7% about their own health. The most important sources of information were APL(93%), veterinarians (89%) and the state Department of Primary Industries (DPI) (75%). Thefirst two considered the most trusted sources of information. Television, radio and otherfarmers were considered more important sources of information by small herds and veterinariansby larger herds. Producers believed that the H1N1/09 outbreak was better managedby the pork industry (89.9%) than by the health authorities (58.8%), and the on-going communicationwith APL was the main strength of the outbreak management. Communicationand extension programs in future outbreaks should consider the needs of all sectors of thepig industry to increase their effectiveness.The Influenza Pandemic (H1N1/09) virus was first reported in humans in Mexico in April2009 and a pandemic level was declared on 11th of June 2009 by the World Health Organization(Chan, 2009; WHO, 2009a). Public misconceptions about the transmission of H1N1/09were caused by the inadequate naming of the disease as 'swine influenza'. This crosssectionalstudy was conducted at the height of the outbreak in the Australian humanpopulation and before the virus was reported in the first piggery in Australia in July 2009(OIE, 2009b; Holyoake et al., 2011). The aims of this study were to evaluate pig producers'perceptions about the virus and the outbreak financial impact and influence on on-farmbiosecurity practices. A questionnaire was designed and posted to Australian Pork Limited(APL) members (n = 460), obtaining responses from 182 producers (39.6%). Pig producershad good general knowledge on potential transmission pathways for H1N1/09 betweenpeople, with direct or close contact with a sick person perceived as the most likely pathways.Changes on biosecurity practices, such as asking visitors if they had recently beenoverseas (27.8%) and not allowing any visitor to inspect their pigs (18.3%), were reportedamong respondents. In addition, approximately 40% of producers asked their employeesto notify flu like symptoms, consulted a veterinarian on H1N1/09 and visited websites toseek information on H1N1/09. A higher adoption of these practices was observed amonglarge (>100 sows) than small herds. Only 2.9% of respondents reported a reduction in pigsales during the outbreak.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)284-294
Number of pages11
JournalPreventive Veterinary Medicine
Issue number3-4
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2012


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