Despite Sick Pigs H1N1 Seems to be Winding Down

Call for vets to work with human health officials to monitor swine herds.

Published on: May 7, 2009

Canadian officials have confirmed the first case of the H1N1 virus in a herd of 2,200 pigs near Alberta. Officials believe these pigs were infected with the virus by a worker on the farm that had recently visited Mexico. Dr. Liz Wagstrom, assistant vice president of science and technology for the National Pork Board, says influenza is not uncommon in pigs. But, they recover, and it does not affect the safety or quality of pork.

Meanwhile, in Mexico City, where the H1N1 virus began, the flu alert level has been lowered, allowing cafes, museums and libraries to reopen. Mexican officials declared that the epidemic is waning. Worldwide 898 people in 18 countries became ill because of the H1N1 virus.

However the U.S. pork industry and international health groups continue to reassure people pork is safe to eat and handle. The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, the World Organization for Animal Health, the World Health Organization and the World Trade Organization all say that pork and pork products, handled in accordance with good hygienic practices recommended by the WHO, FAO, Codex Alimentarius Commission and the OIE, will not be a source of infection.

The groups also say there is no justification for the imposition of trade measures on the importation of pigs or their products. However, it is important that veterinary authorities should collaborate with human health counterparts to monitor pig herds for any signs of unusual illness with suspected linkages to human cases of H1N1 influenza.