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Consensus statement from an inter-agency scientific consultation on potential risks of pandemic (H1N1) 2009 influenza virus at the human-animal interface


To assess the potential risks of pandemic (H1N1) 2009 influenza virus at the human-animal interface, the World Health Organization (WHO), the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE) hosted a scientific consultation via teleconference on 3 June 2009. The expert WHO/OIE/FAO consultation made the following consensus statements:


  1. Humans can become infected through close contact with ill pigs infected with influenza virus and showing influenza-like signs. This is presumed to be true for pandemic (H1N1) 2009 virus as well. Such occurrences are rarely documented through current surveillance systems.
  2. The risk of humans becoming infected from contamination reaching the environment (e.g. through manure) is minimal as influenza viruses are not usually shed in the faeces of the pig.
  3. The risk of being infected with swine influenza viruses through the consumption of pork or pork products is considered negligible. Influenza viruses are generally restricted to the respiratory tract of pigs and are not detected in the muscle (meat) of pigs, even during acute illness. Heat treatments commonly used in cooking meat (e.g. 70°C/160°F core temperature) will readily inactivate viruses and other pathogens potentially present in raw pork products.
  4. People ill with influenza have reportedly infected pigs with influenza viruses. While this is possible, these events are not well documented. Those working with pigs should follow the same advice as provided to the general public and stay home if they exhibit flu-like symptoms.


For an official communiqué from the CVO of FAO, click here.
For more information, please see the consultation report here.