Pig In Minnesota Contracts H1N1, USDA Says

The U.S. Department of Agriculture says at least one pig from Minnesota has tested positive for the H1N1 virus, the first case of a pig contracting the virus in the United States.

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said in a statement Monday that USDA officials have begun to reach out to international organizations and are emphasizing that H1N1, also known as swine flu, cannot be contracted by eating pork products.

The USDA’s National Veterinary Services Laboratories confirmed the presence of H1N1 after an initial test suggested that as many as three pigs may have had the virus.

USDA officials say the infection of a so-called show pig doesn’t indicate an infection of commercial herds because show pigs are in separate segments of the swine industry.

npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=113939106

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said in a statement Monday that USDA officials have begun to reach out to international organizations and are emphasizing that H1N1, also known as swine flu, cannot be contracted by eating pork products.

Well, that is very nice to know. And I guess it is important that consumers not be panicked, such as in Egypt where authorities ordered the slaughter of all pigs.

But if H1N1 were epidemic among pigs in the the US, it could devastate the pork industry. I’m disappointed that the NPR article didn’t discuss this. It did say that an epidemic isn’t necessarily inevitable (show pigs being kept separate from food pigs), but the threat is worth looking at. I’m not sure if Vilsack or NPR is to blame, but I think more information could have been provided.

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