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Canada Reports Confirmed H1N1 Infection In Pigs After Farm Worker Visits Mexico and Becomes Ill

Sunday, May 3, 2009

(American Meat Institute)

Canada yesterday reported the world’s first case of the current strain of H1N1 jumping to pigs from a human, and health officials there speculate that it may have been caused by a farm worker in the province of Alberta who became ill after a trip to Mexico.

According to the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA), about 10 percent of the Alberta farm’s 2,200 pigs showed symptoms of the same H1N1 strain and “they are recovering on their own” said Dr. Brian Evans, CFIA executive vice president of the Canadian Food Inspection Agency.

Evans said the pigs have been quarantined and there is no risk to the food supply, he said.

Canadian officials are testing other workers on the farm.  Canada has reported 85 confirmed human cases of the H1N1 flu virus.

Evans urged other countries should avoid adding new health or trade restrictions based on the news because the risk of the virus moving from pigs to humans is “remote”.

In a statement issued yesterday, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said, “This detection does not change the situation here in the United States.  There have been no reports that the novel H1N1 strain currently causing illness in humans is in U.S. swine.” 

Vilsack also stressed pork safety.  “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. “

AMI President J. Patrick Boyle echoed Vilsack’s comments saying, “This development is not entirely unexpected, but it does not change the fundamental fact that pork is safe and not a source of the flu.  Americans needn’t change their normal dietary or cooking habits.  Pork is a nutrient rich food that can and should continue to be enjoyed as part of a healthy diet.”

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