The Canadian Press - ONLINE EDITION

US authorities say pigs may have tested positive for swine flu, 1st possible US cases in swine

  • Print

WASHINGTON - Pigs in Minnesota may have tested positive for the H1N1 virus in a preliminary test, which would be the first U.S. cases in swine, Agriculture Department officials said Friday.

The officials cautioned that further tests were needed to confirm that the pigs had been infected with H1N1, also known as swine flu virus. The pigs did not exhibit signs of sickness and may have been infected with the virus by a group of children carrying it, they said.

Samples from the pigs that may have tested positive were collected at the Minnesota State Fair between Aug. 26 and Sept. 1. USDA officials did not say how many pigs might have tested positive.

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said in a statement that testing was under way and results should be available in a matter of days. He said the USDA was working with the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and his agency's National Veterinary Services Laboratories would conduct tests to confirm the results.

Vilsack asked for caution from consumers and said people should not react to the news by avoiding pork products.

"I want to remind people that people cannot get this flu from eating pork or pork products," he said.

Pigs regularly get influenza viruses and recover quickly. While the chance of a pig infecting a person is considered remote, they are of interest because they can act as mixing vessels if they happen to catch two different strains at the same time, which can allow mutation into a new virus. Agriculture officials already were working on a pig vaccine and would quarantine and monitor infected herds.

Still, the news clearly was unwelcome for the pork industry, which has worked assiduously to distance itself from the H1N1 virus.

Mike Wagner, a spokesman for the National Pork Board, stressed that no threat to public health exists. "Pigs get sick from the flu every winter, just like humans get sick from the flu every winter," he said.

Duane Woebbeking, a hog producer outside of Gladbrook, Iowa, said Friday's news presented a potential "public relations risk" to pork producers.

"I'm more concerned with the public fear," he said. "How many thousands of people die a year from the flu? Most years nobody thinks about it, but now everyone is up in arms because of this H1N1 thing."

Around 36,000 Americans die of flu every year.

Minnesota is the country's No. 3 pork-producing state behind Iowa and North Carolina. Minnesota pork producers had 7.3 million hogs and pigs as of Sept. 1, according to USDA figures, while the national inventory was 66.6 million head. The pork industry contributes nearly $1.5 billion and more than 21,000 jobs to the state's economy, according to the National Pork Producers Council.

Agriculture officials have said they expected H1N1 to reach domestic pigs this year. It has led pork producers to push for a hog vaccine for the virus. H1N1 infections of swine herds have previously been reported in Canada, Australia and Argentina but not previously the United States.

The potentially positive test was discovered by a CDC research project conducted by the University of Iowa and University of Minnesota, which is documenting instances of influenza viruses where humans and pigs regularly interact, such as state fairs.

A record crowd of nearly 1.8 million people attended the 2009 Minnesota State Fair, an annual event.

More than 100 students were sent home from the fair on Sept. 2 after health officials confirmed four students had come down with swine flu. Friday's USDA announcement said no link between the pigs and the children had been made and current information suggests the children were not sickened by the pigs.

-

Associated Press writers Michael J. Crumb in Des Moines, Iowa; Steve Karnowski in Minneapolis, Minnesota; and Lauran Neergaard in Washington contributed to this report.

Fact Check

Fact Check

Have you found an error, or know of something we’ve missed in one of our stories?
Please use the form below and let us know.

* Required
  • Please post the headline of the story or the title of the video with the error.

  • Please post exactly what was wrong with the story.

  • Please indicate your source for the correct information.

  • Yes

    No

  • This will only be used to contact you if we have a question about your submission, it will not be used to identify you or be published.

  • Cancel

Having problems with the form?

Contact Us Directly
  • Print

You can comment on most stories on winnipegfreepress.com. You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

You can comment on most stories on winnipegfreepress.com. You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

Have Your Say

New to commenting? Check out our Frequently Asked Questions.

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscribers only. why?

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press Subscribers only. why?

The Winnipeg Free Press does not necessarily endorse any of the views posted. By submitting your comment, you agree to our Terms and Conditions. These terms were revised effective April 16, 2010.

letters

Make text: Larger | Smaller

LATEST VIDEO

Tree remover has special connection to Grandma Elm

View more like this

Photo Store Gallery

  • A mother goose has chosen a rather busy spot to nest her eggs- in the parking lot of St Vital Centre on a boulevard. Countless cars buzz by and people have begun to bring it food.-Goose Challenge Day 06 - May 08, 2012   (JOE BRYKSA / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS)
  • Ruth Bonneville Winnipeg Free Press January 18, 2011 Local Standup -

View More Gallery Photos

Poll

Should Winnipeg control growth to deal with climate change?

View Results

View Related Story

Ads by Google