TORONTO — A Central Alberta pig farm is under quarantine after its hogs caught the same H1N1 virus that has sickened more than 1,000 humans worldwide. The news has heightened fears among pig farmers, whose animals already face much prejudice because of the virus’s common name, swine flu.
As Alberta’s Agriculture Minister George Groeneveld and countless others have stressed, there is currently no evidence that the virus can be transferred by eating pork products. However, after this occurrence, which is believed to be the first instance that the disease was transferred from human to animal, pork consumers around the world are being extra cautious even after Groenveld publicly exclaimed that “there is no risk to [Alberta's] food supply.”
Chinese officials have banned pork imports from the province even though officials say that the virus was contained to the one farm and that all 2, 200 pigs were quarantined and contained. In total, 200 hogs were infected and are currently recovering. They pose no risk of transmitting the disease to any other Alberta hogs.
The virus was transmitted by a farmer to one of his pigs after he and his family returned from Mexico nearly a month ago with flu-like symptoms. Upon their return, the swine flu outbreak was not major news and therefore, the family never thought to get checked.
Though H1N1 ‚ cannot be transmitted through eating pork, 20 countries, including Russia, China and Thailand have banned the imports of pork products from infected nations including Canada, the U.S. and Mexico, three of the world’s top pork exporters.
The World Health Organization (WHO) remarked that it would need to see H1N1 spread throughout Asia and Europe before declaring a pandemic. This is thought to occur soon.
In Egypt, fears have also risen regarding the safety of pigs. On Saturday the government ordered the genocide of all pigs in Egypt (nearly 300,000), to which farmers and hog owners were outraged. Pig owners threw stones at government officials who in turn fired guns and tossed tear gas. The ‚ officials seized pigs from various owners and gave no compensation in return.
Remarkably, 12 were injured in riots caused by the pig slaughter. Oh and by the way, there have been no reports of any H1N1 virus ‚ cases in Egypt yet.