Don't cull pigs due to H1N1 fears: O.I.E.

by Bryan Salvage
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PARIS — Members of the World Organization for Animal Health (O.I.E.) have been strongly advised by the group not to start culling pigs due to the spreading A/H1N1 influenza outbreak that began in North America.

According to scientific information currently available to the O.I.E. and partner organizations, this novel virus is being transmitted amongst humans; there is no evidence of infection in pigs or of humans acquiring infection directly from pigs. And although the currently circulating A/H1N1 influenza virus is not simply a swine influenza virus (it has reassortant genetic material of human, avian and swine origin), swine influenza has not been shown to be transmissible to people through eating pork or other products derived from pigs.

Instead of culling, members should focus on appropriate disease surveillance and strengthening general biosecurity measures applied at premises where pigs are handled and slaughtered, O.I.E. advised.

O.I.E. is collaborating with its network of reference laboratories and collaborating centers, as well as with the World Health Organization and the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization, in scientific investigations on the current situation and will issue further advice regarding biosecurity and trade measures, if needed, in due course.

In the meantime, veterinary authorities should collaborate with their human health counterparts to monitor pig herds for any signs of unusual illness with suspected linkages to human cases of A/H1N1 influenza, O.I.E. concluded.

READER COMMENTS:

From: D. Fraser
There is no evidence that this virus ever infected pigs although it may have derived from a pig strain. It would be more accurate to call it "North America Flu" in line with "Hong Kong Flu" etc… in the past.

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