The Inability to Screen Exhibition Swine for Influenza A Virus Using Body Temperature

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Agricultural fairs create an unconventional animal–human interface that has been associated with swine-to-human transmission of influenza A virus (IAV) in recent years. Early detection of IAV-infected pigs at agricultural fairs would allow veterinarians to better protect swine and human health during these swine exhibitions. This study assessed the use of swine body temperature measurement, recorded by infrared and rectal thermometers, as a practical method to detect IAV-infected swine at agricultural fairs. In our first objective, infrared thermometers were used to record the body surface temperature of 1,092 pigs at the time of IAV nasal swab collection at the end of the exhibition period of 55 agricultural fairs. IAV was recovered from 212 (19.4%) pigs, and the difference in mean infrared body temperature measurement of IAV-positive and IAV-negative pigs was 0.83°C. In a second objective, snout wipes were collected from 1,948 pigs immediately prior to the unloading of the animals at a single large swine exhibition. Concurrent to the snout wipe collection, owners took the rectal temperatures of his/her pigs. In this case, 47 (2.4%) pigs tested positive for IAV before they entered the swine barn. The mean rectal temperatures differed by only 0.19°C between IAV-positive and IAV-negative pigs. The low prevalence of IAV among the pigs upon entry to the fair in the second objective provides evidence that limiting intraspecies spread of IAV during the fairs will likely have significant impacts on the zoonotic transmission. However, in both objectives, the high degree of similarity in the body temperature measurements between the IAV-positive and IAV-negative pigs made it impossible to set a diagnostically meaningful cut point to differentiate IAV status of the individual animals. Unfortunately, body temperature measurement cannot be used to accurately screen exhibition swine for IAV.

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