July 21, 2009

Report: Canadian H1N1 inspectors bungled

Two Canadian federal health inspectors used the wrong equipment to inspect Alberta pigs for H1N1 flu and contracted the virus themselves, a leaked report says.

A July 2 Alberta Health Services report obtained by the Canadian Broadcasting Corp. said on April 28, the two inspectors visited a farm that eventually culled 500 hogs infected with the virus also called swine flu, the CBC said.

The pair had the wrong protective equipment and had not been trained in proper decontamination procedures, the provincial report said. It noted the full-face masks the inspectors used had been borrowed from a fire department and didn't fit properly. The AHS report also said witnesses saw the inspectors make several errors as they took nasal swabs and blood test from the hogs.

They stated that they lifted their mask inside the barn to allow the sweat to drip down. They doffed their equipment without assistance, and the face mask was the first piece of equipment to be removed, the report said.

Both inspectors became sick with the flu the next day, the CBC said.

The Canadian Food Inspection Agency told the broadcaster all inspectors have since been briefed on proper equipment and procedures.