An interactive swine flu map has been developed for farmers to know if influenza is occurring in their region.
The online tool, updated on a quarterly basis, shows the strains of swine flu detected on pig units by country and even by region.
The free service is available in the United Kingdom and a number of different European countries.
Since 2009, pandemic strains have been detected in pig herds, changing the dynamics on farms across the continent.
Dr Kathrin Lillie-Jaschniski, a specialist veterinarian with Ceva, which developed the map, said it was an 'important' tool for the pig sector.
She said the map would enable farmers and vets 'to make the correct diagnosis and decide upon the appropriate prevention and vaccination programme'.
"It is important for veterinarians and farmers to know if influenza is occurring in their region and also the different strains,” said Dr Lillie-Jaschniski added.
To detect the virus, a variety of samples – such as nasal swabs – are taken in herds with acute clinical signs of flu, or those with persistent respiratory or reproductive symptoms, and are then analysed in laboratories.
Evidence that classical and pandemic strains of flu are occurring in a particular region gives a strong signal that vaccination should be considered.
"Pandemic strains can also spill over from pigs to humans and vice versa, so there is a public health aspect, too,” said Dr Lillie-Jaschniski.
“Apart from the health aspect, swine flu can have serious economic consequences for a pig herd, especially if other respiratory infections are present."
One French survey showed the cost of an outbreak in gilts was as much as 16 euros loss per gilt, while another study from Sweden calculated a loss of 77 euros per sow.
Farmers and vets can use the interactive swine flu map on Ceva's website.