Two Canada hog workers hit by new non-pandemic flu

Tue Jul 7, 2009 7:07pm EDT
 
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By Rod Nickel

SASKATOON, Saskatchewan (Reuters) - Two farm workers in Western Canada have become infected with a new flu virus, health officials said on Tuesday, stressing the strain was not related to the H1N1 pandemic.

The two workers, both employees at a hog barn operation in the province of Saskatchewan, have fully recovered. A third case is under investigation.

The new virus contains genes from a seasonal human H1N1 flu strain and a flu virus common in the swine population called triple reassortant H3N2, said Dr. Greg Douglas, Saskatchewan's chief veterinary officer.

The virus is not connected to the H1N1 strain, sometimes referred to as swine flu, that has killed more than 400 people worldwide. That strain is believed to have begun in Mexico and has been labeled a pandemic by the World Health Organization.

There are no signs of increased illness in the hog herd, Douglas added.

"This is a human health issue," he said. "Saskatchewan pork continues to be safe ... This is not a food safety issue at all."

Concern about the issue of pigs becoming infected with the H1N1 flu has been heightened in Canada since a herd in Alberta became infected in April. A human worker who had visited Mexico was initially suspected as the source but was later ruled out.

The Saskatchewan farm is not under quarantine, but the owner has agreed not to move the pigs, said Dr. Frank Plummer, chief science adviser for the Public Health Agency of Canada.   Continued...