Ag secretary comments on H1N1 in Canadian swine

"I received word this afternoon (May 2) that Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) officials have tentatively confirmed swine from a herd in Alberta, Canada, have tested positive for the H1N1 strain currently causing illness in humans.

A Canadian carpenter who had been in Mexico, upon return, was exhibiting flu-like symptoms, did work on the Alberta farm, and subsequently the family and swine on the farm became ill.

“First and foremost, this detection does not change the situation here in the United States:

• There have been no reports the novel H1N1 strain currently causing illness in humans is in U.S. swine.

• This is not a foodborne illness. The American food supply is safe and pork and pork products are safe. As is the case with all meat and poultry, safe handling and cooking practices should be used to kill any germs or bacteria that could make you sick.

• As a precaution, people with flu-like symptoms should not interact with swine, and swine showing influenza symptoms should be kept away from the public and brought to the attention of the State Animal Health Authorities or USDA. Proper biosecurity measures — as in any influenza situation — will protect against the spread of virus.

Additional details about the Alberta situation are that no sick swine have left the farm, and the animals and premises have been quarantined. The swine and humans are recovering and appear healthy. We are working closely with our CFIA counterparts to be kept abreast of the situation, and will await the final confirmatory test results, which could take anywhere from 5 days to 2 weeks. Canada has handled this situation appropriately and taken the necessary steps and precautions.

Here in the United States, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) is actively working to develop an H1N1 vaccine for swine, just as the CDC is doing for humans. It is standard operating procedure at the USDA to send any unusual virus, such as the H1N1 virus, detected through our surveillance network to our labs in Ames, Iowa. Our scientists routinely diagnose animal diseases and develop vaccines to protect livestock and poultry in the United States.

Today's discovery will not impact our borders or trading with Canada. As prescribed by the World Organization for Animal Health guidelines, any trade restrictions must be based on science so at this time, we are awaiting confirmatory test results before considering any action."

TAGS: Livestock
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