Thursday, 15 October 2009

Questions (64)

Joanna Tuffy

Question:

56 Deputy Joanna Tuffy asked the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food the status of the swine influenza virus in pigs here in view of the recent reports of an outbreak at a farm in County Cork. [36233/09]

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Written answers (Question to Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food)

On 29 September 2009 the first case of pandemic influenza A/H1N1 was confirmed in Ireland in a pig breeding herd in County Cork. A second case in a breeding/fattening unit in County Cavan was subsequently notified to the Department on 9 October. In both cases, the disease was mild, had low impact on production and has no significance as regards food safety. It is believed that the most likely source of transmission to the pig herds was from infected persons. In both cases the pigs are now fully recovered and showing no clinical signs.

These outbreaks are not unexpected events given the widespread occurrence of the pandemic virus in humans and the possibility for occasional transmission from humans to pigs. In recent months the A/H1N1/2009 virus has been detected in pigs in Canada, Australia, Argentina, and more recently in Norway and Northern Ireland. The Department has recommended that increased biosecurity measures on pig farms be implemented, and that the Code of Practice for Pandemic Influenza A/H1N1 in pigs, which had already been drawn up by the Department in consultation with the pig producing stakeholders be adhered to. This code, recently distributed to all pig keepers in the country, sets out the actions that pig keepers should take to reduce the risk of introduction of influenza viruses to pig herds, how to manage the disease if it is confirmed in a herd and how to prevent its onward transmission.

Influenza in pigs is not a public health concern, nor should consumers be concerned about eating pork or pork products. The FAO, the WHO and the OIE, in a combined statement have advised that influenza viruses are not known to be transmissible to humans through eating processed pork or other food products derived pigs. In line with OIE standards, the guidelines agreed at EU level do not recommend to cull infected pig herds or to prohibit the normal movement of clinically healthy animals for slaughter.