Pro Farmer Editors
USDA's National Veterinary Services Laboratories has confirmed the presence of 2009 pandemic H1N1 influenza virus in a pig sample collected at the Minnesota State Fair submitted by the University of Minnesota. Additional samples are being tested.
"We have fully engaged our trading partners to remind them that several international organizations, including the World Organization for Animal Health, have advised that there is no scientific basis to restrict trade in pork and pork products," said USDA Sec. Tom Vilsack in announcing the positive sample. "People cannot get this flu from eating pork or pork products. Pork is safe to eat."
Sequence results on the hemagglutinin, neuraminidase and matrix genes from the virus isolate are compatible with reported 2009 pandemic H1N1 sequences. The samples collected at the 2009 Minnesota State Fair 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 which documents influenza viruses where humans and pigs interact at such as fairs.
The infection of the fair pig does not suggest infection of commercial herds because show pigs and commercially raised pigs are in separate segments of the swine industry that do not typically interchange personnel or animal stock. 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. More information about USDA's 2009 pandemic H1N1 efforts is available at www.usda.gov/H1N1flu.
Meanwhile, the National Pork Producers Council (NPPC) said in a statement that consumers need to be aware that "pork is safe to eat and handle and that, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, flu viruses cannot be transmitted through food, including pork."
Additionally, the U.S. government has strict safeguards in place to protect the safety of the U.S. food supply, NPPC said. "All pork found in retail stores and restaurants is inspected to the rigors of USDA standards for wholesomeness, and every pig is inspected to ensure that only healthy pigs enter the food supply."
Since the H1N1 flu was first reported in late April, NPPC and the National Pork Board have urged pork producers to tighten their existing biosecurity protocols to protect their pigs from the virus, including restricting public access to barns.