Alberta, Canada – H1N1 influenza virus has infected some pigs in Alberta, federal officials confirmed Saturday.
“It is highly probable that the pigs were exposed to the virus from a Canadian who had recently returned from Mexico and had been exhibiting flu-like symptoms,” a news release from the Canadian Food Inspection Agency said.
All of the pigs are recovering or have recovered. The herd affected has been placed under quarantine, said Dr. Brian Evans, an official with the Canadian Food Inspection Agency. It’s common to see influenza in pigs and human transmission to pigs is known to occur, Evans said.
Normally detecting influenza in pigs would not generate a response from food safety officials, but with an international flu outbreak, the current circumstances are different, Dr. Evans told a news conference in Ottawa. The chance that these pigs could transfer virus to a person is remote,” Dr. Evans said.
The H1N1 virus, which is made up of swine flu genes, is believed to have jumped to humans some time back and has been passing person to person. The World Health Organization has insisted there is no evidence that pigs are passing the virus to humans, or that eating pork products poses an infection risk.
Genetic testing shows the pigs in Alberta were infected with the same virus responsible for cases in California, Mexico and other countries around the world. Herman Simons, a spokesman for Alberta Pork, a producer’s group, said the main worry is the possible effect of the discovery on exports.
Meanwhile, Canada’s swine flu caseload swelled Saturday to 85 cases as health officials confirmed a host of new cases in Nova Scotia, Alberta and Quebec.