Novel H1N1 Suspected in Pigs at Minnesota Fair

The USDA's National Veterinary Services Laboratory (NVSL) in Ames, IA is working to confirm a preliminary diagnosis of novel H1N1 pandemic influenza virus in swine samples collected during the 2009 Minnesota State Fair between August 26 and September 1. If confirmed, this would be the first diagnosis of the novel virus in pigs in the U.S. although the virus has circulated widely in the human population worldwide since April 2009. Secretary of agriculture Tom Vilsack reminds consumers that even if the novel virus is confirmed, people cannot catch influenza from eating pork.

The pigs tested were reportedly healthy and exhibiting no clinical signs of influenza-like illness at the time samples were collected for a research project conducted at the University of Iowa and University of Minnesota. The two year old project, funded by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), was designed to document influenza viruses where humans and pigs interact. A number of children housed in a dormitory during the fair became ill with influenza-like symptoms at the time these samples were collected but there is no known direct link between the pigs and the children.

The American Association of Swine Veterinarians offers the following recommendations:

  1. Swine workers should be vaccinated against the seasonal influenza viruses and receive priority for vaccination against any novel influenza viruses.
  2. Producers should emphasize good on-farm biosecurity practices.
  3. Continue current swine influenza vaccinations to control clinical signs of disease in pigs and utilize vaccines against the novel H1N1 if shown to reduce viral shedding and the risk of transmission to pork production personnel.
  4. Support the USDA's swine influenza surveillance program designed to detect novel influenza viruses including the pandemic H1N1. The association encourages its members to submit samples from pigs exhibiting influenza-like illness (lethargy, inappetence, fever, nasal/ocular discharge, sneezing, and coughing) to a veterinary diagnostic laboratory for differential testing. Also, pigs exhibiting clinical signs of illness should not be shipped to slaughter until the clinical signs have resolved.

Additional information is available on the AASV website at http://www.aasv.org/public/H1N12009PandemicInfluenza.php