Interim guidance and technical resources on animal health issues related to the new Influenza A/H1N1 virus is forthcoming from FAO in the coming days and weeks. These will include information on a wide range of topics including Surveillance, Biosecurity, Sample Shipments, Laboratory Procedures, Personal/Community Protection, Communication etc.
As the first of such a series of inputs, we post here:
- FAO Guidelines for surveillance of pandemic H1N1/2009 and other influenza viruses in swine populations (March 2010)
- General guidance for the international shipment of samples for laboratory diagnostics (08 May 2009)
- List of international veterinary diagnostic laboratories for submission of suspected influenza A/H1N1 swine samples or isolates (08 May 2009)
Additionally, in order to reduce the risk for transmission of influenza A/H1N1 (in humans and animals), FAO recommends the following priority actions:
- Surveillance for porcine respiratory disease should be intensified and all cases of porcine respiratory syndrome should be immediately reported to the national veterinary authorities.
- Movement restrictions should be implemented for all farms or holdings with swine showing signs of clinical respiratory illness until diagnosis of the illness have been made. Where influenza A/H1N1 is confirmed, these restrictions should be in force until seven days after the last animal has recovered.
- Animals suffering from swine influenza can be separated from healthy herd-mates and allowed to recover; there is no need to cull affected animals.
- Animal handlers and veterinarians should wear protective gear to minimize risk of being infected by zoonotic agents, including influenza.
- Persons who work directly with swine should be urged not to go to work if they have any signs respiratory disease, fever or any influenza-like illness.
- In high risk areas a swine influenza vaccine could be used in swine as long as it is considered effective against the circulating strain, and is permitted by relevant authorities.
Furthermore, we re-emphasise that:
- Influenza viruses are not known to be transmissible to people through eating processed pork or other food products derived from pigs.
- Heat treatments commonly used in cooking meat (e.g. 70°C/160°F core temperature) will readily inactivate any viruses potentially present in raw meat products.
- Pork and pork products, handled in accordance with good hygienic practices recommended by the WHO, FAO, Codex Alimentarius Commission and the OIE, will not be a source of infection
- Authorities and consumers should ensure that meat from sick pigs or pigs found dead are not processed or used for human consumption under any circumstances.