At least one pig at the Minnesota State Fair contracted the 2009 Novel H1N1 influenza virus.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture confirmed October 19 the first reported infection in the nation's swine. Researchers had collected samples from an undisclosed number of pigs at the fair between Aug. 26 and Sept. 1 in St. Paul in a project to document influenza infections in humans and pigs.
The USDA did not release results of the other confirmatory tests, and the agency could not immediately be reached for further comment.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is funding the study by the University of Iowa and University of Minnesota.
"The infection of the fair pig does not suggest infection of commercial herds because show pigs and commercially raised pigs are in separate segments of the swine industry that do not typically interchange personnel or animal stock," the USDA announcement states. "USDA continues to remind U.S. swine producers about the need for good hygiene, biosecurity, and other practices that will prevent the introduction and spread of influenza viruses in their herd and encourage them to participate in USDA's swine influenza virus surveillance program."
The USDA announced Oct. 16 that the collection of samples from pigs coincided with an outbreak of the pandemic influenza strain in a group of children housed in a dormitory at the fair. However, the USDA has not found a direct link between the infections.
Dr. Tom Burkgren, executive director of the American Association of Swine Veterinarians, was pleased the confirmatory test had not attracted much news media attention, and he hoped the news would not negatively affect the swine industry.
"We're hopeful that it will not have an impact, especially on consumer demand," Dr. Burkgren said.
People involved with the swine industry have expected some pigs would become infected with the H1N1 influenza strain, Dr. Burkgren said. He stressed that people cannot contract the disease from handling or eating pork, and personal hygiene is most effective at preventing infection.
The pandemic influenza virus has also been detected in swine in Canada and Northern Ireland, and at least two employees of the Canadian Food Inspection Agency have contracted the virus.
The AVMA has provided additional information on the 2009 Novel H1N1 influenza virus at www.avma.org. Click on "Public Health" and then on "Influenza."