No evidence that animals play part in flu spread, says body

June 12, 2009

There is no evidence of animals playing any role in the spread of A/H1N1 flu, a leading animal health body announced as the world flu pandemic level was raised to its highest level.

The World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE) said it maintained its recommendations to animal health authorities worldwide.

The body's announcement came the same day of the World Health Organisation (WHO) declaration that the novel influenza A/H1N1 had reached phase 6 of an influenza global pandemic.

"While the WHO has officially declared an influenza global pandemic phase 6, the role of animals has not been demonstrated in the epidemiology or spread of novel A/H1N1," OIE director general, Dr Bernard Vallat, said.

He continued: "A/H1N1 is indeed a public health issue for all worldwide but so far the role of animals has not been demonstrated in its epidemiology or spread.

"Thus, recommendations we made since the start of this crisis remain valid."

Vallat said public and animal health experts worldwide will continue their joint effort on scientific research aimed at better understanding the virus and providing sound, science-based, recommendations for prevention and control.

The OIE recommendations are:

  • National veterinary services must effectively monitor animal populations for clinical signs of disease, use appropriate confirmation diagnostic methods and rapidly report occurrences of the disease, if any, in animals to the OIE on the basis of an emerging disease;

  • Pork and pork products, handled in accordance with good hygienic practices, are not a source of infection;

  • The imposition of ban measures related to the import of pigs and pig products from countries with human cases of A/H1N1 are pointless and do not comply with international standards published by the OIE and all other competent standard-setting international bodies for animal health and food safety;

  • The culling of pigs will not help to guard against public or animal health risks presented by the virus and that such action is not recommended;

  • Where countries do opt to cull pigs, it should always be carried out in accordance with OIE international standards on animal welfare and killing methods for disease control purposes.

The new influenza A virus, also popularly referred to as swine flu, has been shown to have elements of swine, human and bird-flu virus in its makeup.


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