Monday, May 4, 2009

Infected Canadian Pigs Recovered From Flu

Canada reports pigs infected with H1N1
By Liz Szabo, USA TODAY

For the first time, a sick farmworker has infected pigs with the H1N1 virus, or swine flu, World Health Organization officials said Sunday.

A farmworker who recently had traveled to Mexico has infected a herd of pigs in Alberta, Canada, Peter Ben Embarek, a WHO food safety scientist, said at a news conference. The worker returned to the farm in mid-April, and the animals began getting sick eight to 10 days later, Embarek said.

The infection was mild, and the farmworker and pigs have recovered.

The virus that infected the pigs is the same one that is in circulation among people, and there is no indication that the transfer between species has caused the flu bug to mutate into a new or dangerous form, Embarek said.

"This is not a big surprise," he said, noting that officials had expected that pigs could be infected in areas where the virus is circulating.

Although farmworkers are at risk of contracting the virus from pigs, Embarek emphasized that people cannot become infected from eating pork. Both heat and the curing process used to make ham kill the virus, and the virus doesn't live long on surfaces.

"You can continue to safely eat your prosciutto," Embarek said. Link

Even though for the first time, a group of pigs in Canada were infected with the H1N1 virus, there is still no reason for anyone to panic. It appears that the pigs will recover without any problems. Properly handled and cooked pork is still safe to eat. Everyone needs to remember that 36,000 people die from the flu every year in the United States. So far not a single resident of this country has died and almost all the cases of H1N1 have been mild.

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