October 18, 2009

Minnesota Pigs Tested For Swine Flu

Initial tests taken at a state fair could quite possibly reveal evidence of swine flu in pigs from Minnesota, officials announced Friday.

This would reportedly be the first case of the pandemic virus identified in US hogs if the preliminary tests are confirmed, according to AFP and the Associated Press.

"We currently are testing the Minnesota samples to determine if this is 2009 pandemic H1N1 influenza," Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said in a statement.

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

The agriculture department further indicated that the pigs that were tested were seemingly healthy with no sign of illness. 

A group of children staying in a dormitory on fair grounds suffered an outbreak of swine flu approximately the same time the tests were conducted from August 26 through September 1. 

"Information available at this time would suggest the children were not sickened by contact with the fair pigs," the agriculture department said.

Officials said conclusive test results are anticipated in a few days.

However, authorities are not planning any special protocol if the virus is confirmed in the pigs.  Farmers will keep a close eye on herds for flu symptoms, while slaughterhouses will keep on turning away pigs with any sign of the disease. 

According to the World Health Organization, swine flu infection has taken the life of at least 4,735 people since the A(H1N1) virus was first discovered in April.

Fatal cases are increasing steadily, with 210 reported cases just this week, the UN health agency said.