Foodborne Illness & Health Inspection Information & Analysis : Environ Health Associates : Farm to Fork : Food Safety and Environmental Health Blog

Pig to Human H1N1

There has been speculation about the transmission of the swine flu virus, better known as H1N1 virus, from pigs to humans during animal raising or processing and the feeling now is NO according to WHO. USDA has not issued any kind of advisory about this potential when working with pigs and this novel strain is unlikely to be transmitted this way. With that said, with pigs in Canada recently identified as infected with H1N1 it would be a possibility that if pigs were infected the virus could contaminate the meat and thus provide a means of human infection. Handling could expose workers in that event, but normal cooking would make the meat safe for the consumer. Also, this Canada event seems to be an anomaly as the pig was likely infected by a human carrying H1N1 and not the other way.

At this moment it does not appear that H1N1 is moving at all through the pig population. Person to person spread is the real threat at this time. Culling herds such as in Egypt was not well-advised given that we have very scanty info that pig to human infection poses much of a risk, or any risk at all. Of course we do not know for sure what the future holds, but for now the risk is very low or non- existent for workers to become infected when in contact with pigs or from the pork supply in general. It does need close watching, however.

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