Canada confirms A/H1N1 outbreak in pig herd

The A/H1N1 virus has been found in a herd of Canadian pigs, fuelling fears that the flu could spread from humans to livestock.

The Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) has confirmed that pigs on a farm in Alberta, Canada, are infected with A/H1N1 influenza. It is thought that the pigs caught the virus from a carpenter who worked on the farm and had recently returned from Mexico exhibiting flu-like symptoms.

The pigs – which have now recovered after demonstrating only mild symptoms – are thought to be the first non-humans to have contracted the A/H1N1 virus. While further testing is needed to fully characterise the virus, CFIA is taking a precautionary approach.

A spokesperson said: “The herd has been placed under quarantine, and the Agency is working with public health colleagues to determine the most appropriate next steps to ensure that public and animal health remain protected. The chance that these pigs could transfer virus to a person is remote.”

OIE and the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation have warned all veterinary authorities and livestock keepers to monitor pig herds for any signs of unusual illness that may be linked to human cases of A/H1N1 influenza. The World Organisation of Animal Health (OIE) is currently waiting for the results of tests to determine the susceptibility of livestock to the virus and this information is expected within the next few days.

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