INFLUENZA A (H1N1): ANIMAL HEALTH (10) SWINE, CANADA, CULL
A ProMED-mail post
ProMED-mail is a program of the
International Society for Infectious Diseases
Date: Sat 9 May 2009
Source: The Canadian Press [edited]
Alberta pig farm quarantined due to influenza A (H1N1) virus culls 500 hogs
500 hogs have been culled on a pig farm in central Alberta where the herd
was found to be infected with the new swine flu virus. Authorities say the
decision to cull the animals was a result of discussions between the
producer and federal and Alberta officials. They say it was the best course
of action for the welfare of the herd and that it eased overcrowding
conditions on the farm.
The entire herd of 1700 pigs remains under quarantine. Health officials say
because of the quarantine the producer was unable to ship hogs to market
and as a result the farm had reached maximum capacity.
Meanwhile, several new [human] cases of swine flu were reported Saturday [9
May 2009] in Canada, bringing the total nationwide to 281.
19 new cases of swine flu were confirmed in British Columbia (BC) for a
total of 79 cases in that province. The BC Health Ministry says the large
jump in the numbers represents a catch up in the lab work at the BC Centre
for Disease Control. Ontario reported 14 new confirmed cases of the swine
flu, including a case in a one year old child. Alberta has recorded 4 more
cases of the swine flu, and at least one of the people did not have contact
with a traveller to Mexico. In Quebec there is one new confirmed case of
the influenza A (H1N1) virus -- it's the 3rd to have surfaced in one
Montreal-area elementary school.
Castleview Pedigree English Longhorns
Date: Thu 14 May 2009
Source: Pig Progress.Net [edited]
Angry Alberta pig farmer urges entire cull
The Alberta pig farmer with H1N1 present on his farm has said he doesn't
understand why his entire herd wasn't culled right away, Canadian
broadcaster CBC reports. "It's a small farm. Take the pressure off
everybody. I think even off the whole world, over the whole pig industry,
everywhere. Get rid of the herd," [the farmer] said in his 1st media
interview. "It's already going on over 9, 10 days? It's a waste of time and
All 2200 of [his] pigs were placed under quarantine in late April 
when some of his animals became sick with the influenza A (H1N1) virus.
It's believed the animals caught the illness from a carpenter who had
recently travelled to Mexico.
[The farmer] said he is frustrated and angry with officials who appear not
to know what the next steps should be and what they should do about his
herd, which remains under quarantine. "They should have a plan. They
don't," he said. "They don't know what to do. Leave me behind and they tell
500 of the animals were destroyed recently to help ease overcrowding. [The
owner] hasn't been able to ship any of his animals since the quarantine was
put in place. He said that he fears he'll never be able to sell any of
them, and that delaying a decision to cull the entire herd is hurting the
entire Canadian pork industry. "Government, please make a decision. Don't
wait and sit back. Help the whole industry. Help our farm," he said.
In Edmonton, Alberta agriculture minister George Groeneveld said the matter
is now being decided by provincial, not federal, officials because the
health of the herd is not a food safety issue covered by the Canadian Food
Inspection Agency. When asked whether the herd should have been culled
right away, Groeneveld said he didn't know. "It's a 50-50 proposition. If
he gets from under quarantine very quickly, I expect not. But, you know,
hindsight is pretty easy on this one," he said.
[The issue -- "to cull or not to cull" -- was raised by ProMED-mail in the
commentary to an earlier posting on the Alberta pig "novel A/H1N1"
infections (see 20090506.1691). The decision is related, among others, to
the legal aspects since the disease is, most probably, not included in the
Canadian list of reportable diseases, allowing culling and compensations.
Since similar situations may arise in other countries, the issue may be
considered as a lesson, deserving study and conclusions. - Mod.AS
Many have referred to this virus as new or novel because we still have much
to learn about it. Clearly, what to do in this very unusual, rare situation
of documented human to pig transmission of the new strain of H1N1 influenza
presents difficult decisions, especially concerning what to do with pigs.
This is particularly true in this instance when infection of the herd
occurred at least 2 weeks prior to discovery of the infected herd status.
Helping guide us through decisions about options should be certain
principles. First, there is a widespread consensus that pork is safe to eat
as indicated in the recent joint OIE/FAO/WHO statement emphasizing that
"Influenza viruses are not known to be transmissible to people through
eating processed pork or other food products derived from pigs." See
ProMED-mail posting 20090507.1710. Furthermore, it is important to remember
that the new novel H1N1 virus hasn't been found to be circulating in swine
herds and did not recently jump from swine herds to the human population.
A 2nd important principle is that the general public is interested in these
events, will naturally react to a health related event of this potential
magnitude, especially with such high media visibility, and the market for
pork will be affected by what actions are taken and what risk communication
is provided. Making sure that the public understands that this infection of
swine originated with humans, was not allowed to spread in the Canadian
swine herd population because of quarantine measures, and pigs from farms
with the new, novel virus will not be put into the food supply is just good
risk communication. Remember that risk communication is not only what you
say but also what actions health authorities, both human and animal, put in
place as well. What we do concerning this herd is important in this regard.
It lets people know that their food is not tainted with influenza A (H1N1)
and that animal health authorities are interested in the public's notion of
wholesome food (that is, not originating on the one known farm to have
experienced the new, novel H1N1 virus). If you doubt the validity of this
last statement, ask your non scientist neighbor if they would eat pork from
a farm that had the new influenza virus. To keep the pork products
originating from the only known farm infected with this new strain of the
influenza food supply is just good risk communication on the part of the
animal health authorities and the pork industry. It is a long term view,
which will pay off in the perception of pork as safe and wholesome. As the
farmer in the situation indicates in the article above, the concerns of the
whole swine industry come into play in such unusual circumstances.
A final note of caution should be that this is an evolving situation, which
may hold further challenges and surprises for both animal health and human
health authorities. Many new strategies may have to be developed by animal
health authorities and it may take some time to get these ironed out.
Guidelines may change as new information comes forward and in fact,
decision making should be guided by events on the ground, the long term
protection of public health, and the economic consequences for the swine
industry. To exclude any of these criteria when making decisions will
likely lead to harsher negative consequences. - Mod.PC]
Influenza A (H1N1): animal health (09), swine, Canada 20090513.1790
Influenza A (H1N1): animal health (08), food safety, FAO/OIE/WHO 20090507.1710
Influenza A (H1N1): animal health (07), swine, Canada, OIE 20090506.1691
Influenza A (H1N1): animal health (06), Canada, OIE 20090505.1683
Influenza A (H1N1): animal health (05), swine, Canada, FAO 20090505.1680
Influenza A (H1N1): animal health (04), infected swine, Canada 20090502.1653
Influenza A (H1N1): animal health (03), Egypt, pig cull 20090502.1649
Influenza A (H1N1): animal health 20090430.1637
Influenza A (H1N1), "swine flu": animal health (02), Egypt, prevention
Influenza A (H1N1), "swine flu": animal health 20090428.1604]