Policy & Politics

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H1N1 Update

Published May. 8, 2009

The World Health Organization (WHO) continues to hold daily press conferences on the hybrid influenza outbreak. 

The alert level has been raised from Phase 4 to Phase 5, and may be increased to Phase 6 in some regions. 

The WHO flu website is updated continually at http://www.who.int/csr/disease/swineflu/en/index.html. 

WHO has clearly stated that pork and products are safe to eat, and that trade and travel restrictions are not appropriate.  According to the WHO and the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), influenza viruses do not affect the safety of pork.  On Saturday, the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE), World Trade Organization (WTO), FAO and WHO issued a joint statement on influenza A (H1N1) and the safety of pork.  The organizations reiterated that properly handled pork and pork products are safe. To date, there is no evidence that the virus is transmitted by food.

Over the weekend, Canada announced the first suspected case of influenza in an Alberta swine herd.  The Canadian case is linked to a farm worker who recently traveled to Mexico and may have spread his infection to the 2,200 head herd.  The farm has been quarantined and the infection is entirely contained.  Secretary Vilsack announced in a statement Saturday night that the case does not impact the U.S. influenza status and will not affect trade.  Secretary Vilsack also issued a joint statement with his Canadian and Mexican counterparts Saturday morning, warning international trading partners not to use the outbreak of the H1N1 influenza as a reason to create unnecessary trade restrictions. 

Pork is safe to eat and the U.S. swine herd is not infected with the hybrid Mexican influenza, according to the Centers for Disease Control and USDA. Officials with federal agencies responsible for human health say there are no food safety issues related to the hybrid flu.  There is no evidence that this virus is transmitted by food.   Modern swine housing systems help reduce the exposure of pigs to influenza and other animal health concerns, as well as environmental conditions that may contribute to the likelihood of illness.  This flu outbreak highlights the importance of maintaining the variety of options and tools that producers need and utilize to keep their animals safe and healthy.

 



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