USDA testing pigs for flu

by Wally Northway

Published: October 19,2009

Tags: agriculture, federal agency, pendemic, public health

WASHINGTON — The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) National Veterinary Services Laboratories will be conducting confirmatory testing on swine samples collected at the 2009 Minnesota State Fair between Aug. 26-Sept. 1.

The pigs sampled at the time showed no signs of illness and were apparently healthy. The samples collected were part of a University of Iowa and University of Minnesota cooperative agreement research project funded by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), which documents influenza viruses where humans and pigs interact at such as fairs.

An outbreak of 2009 pandemic H1N1 influenza occurred in a group of children housed in a dormitory at the fair at the same time samples were collected from the pigs, but no direct link to the pigs has been made. Information available at this time would suggest the children were not sickened by contact with the fair pigs.

USDA continues to remind U.S. swine producers about the need for good hygiene, biosecurity and other practices that will prevent the introduction and spread of influenza viruses in their herd and encourage them to participate in USDA’s swine influenza virus surveillance program. Monitoring and studying these influenza viruses in swine, will help USDA learn about the virus, develop better tools to diagnose and develop new and improved vaccines to protect our U.S swine herds. USDA encourages commercial pork producers to intensify the biosecurity practices that they have in place, particularly during this flu season.

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