PARIS – Although the pandemic H1N1 2009 virus continues spreading among humans throughout the world, there is no evidence animals are playing any role in the epidemiology or spread of the virus, iterates the World Organization for Animal Health (O.I.E.).

The O.I.E. is expanding its current Reference Laboratories for avian influenza to include expertise on all animal influenza viruses and emphasize research on the behavior of these viruses at the human-animal interface. The O.I.E./F.A.O. global network O.F.F.L.U. already extended its scope of actions by including influenza viruses’ diagnosis and research in pigs.

O.I.E. considers the recommendations issued since the pandemic H1N1 2009 virus first arrived remain valid:

• National veterinary services must effectively monitor animal populations for clinical signs of respiratory disease, use appropriate confirmation diagnostic methods and rapidly report occurrences of the disease in animals, if any, to the O.I.E. by using the qualification of "emerging disease".

• Should the presence of the "pandemic H1N1 2009 virus" be detected on a farm, the holding should be placed under surveillance and control of movements should be applied; the transfer of pigs from the farm to the slaughterhouse can be done using basic bio-security measures.

• Culling pigs will not help to guard against public or animal health risks presented by the virus. As for any other disease, slaughtering of sick pigs for human consumption is not recommended.

• Imposing bans related to importing pigs and pig products from countries with human or animal cases are pointless and do not comply with international standards published by the O.I.E. and all other competent standard setting international bodies for animal health and food safety.

• Should any country decide to cull pigs on the basis of the principle of precaution, culling should always be carried out in accordance with O.I.E. international standards on animal welfare and killing methods for disease control purposes (Volume 1; Section 7; Chapter 7.6 of the Terrestrial Animal Health Code;

• Pork and pork products, handled in accordance with good hygienic practices jointly recommended by the W.H.O., F.A.O., Codex Alimentarius Commission and the O.I.E, are not a source of infection from the virus.