CANADA pig flu case shows need for surveillance-FAO***
Posted: May 3rd, 2009 - 11:16pm
ROME -- The transmission of the new H1N1 virus from a man to a herd of swine in Canada is a reason for concern and confirms the need for increased surveillance of pig farms, the United Nations food agency said on Sunday.
However, Joseph Domenech, chief veterinary officer at the Food and Agriculture Organisation, said the incident was not surprising and reiterated pork and pork products handled in accordance with good hygienic practices were safe to eat.
"We are concerned that this happened but we are not panicking," Domenech told Reuters. "It just reinforces the principle that surveillance of pigs must be intensified."
Canadian health officials said on Saturday a swine herd in the western province of Alberta had apparently caught the virus from a carpenter who recently travelled to Mexico, the epicentre of a swine flu outbreak that has spread to 19 countries and may have killed more than 100 people, all but one in Mexico.
It was the first time the Canadian Food Inspection Agency had reported a case of the virus being transmitted from a human to a pig in Canada.
"It's rare but we have said from the beginning of this flu outbreak that this might happen," Domenech said.
He said FAO was awaiting the results of tests conducted in at least two laboratories in the United States and Canada, where strains of the virus isolated in humans in Mexico had been inoculated into pigs.