Results of regular influenza virus surveillance in pigs from February to April released
Hong Kong (HKSAR) - The Centre for Food Safety (CFS) of the Food and Environmental Hygiene Department (FEHD) today (May 18) announced results for February to April under a regular influenza virus surveillance programme for pigs conducted by the University of Hong Kong (HKU) at the Sheung Shui Slaughterhouse. Two samples taken in February tested positive for the human swine influenza (pandemic H1N1) virus, but no significant genetic reassortment of viruses was found.
A spokesman for the CFS said that given the wide transmission of the pandemic H1N1 virus in humans, detection of the virus in pigs would not be a surprise.
It was expected that positive findings might appear from time to time in HKU's surveillance programme in future.
Under the regular influenza virus surveillance programme for pigs, the CFS has been helping HKU researchers by collecting blood, tracheal and nasal swabs from pigs at the Sheung Shui Slaughterhouse twice a month.
The spokesman said, "The CFS would continue to monitor reports of the HKU surveillance programme and make announcements on a regular basis. Results will be announced immediately if there are significant public health impacts such as genetic reassortment of viruses."
According to the World Health Organization, World Organisation for Animal Health and Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, human swine influenza would not be contracted by consuming pork and pork products that are handled properly and thoroughly cooked. Members of the public are advised that it is safe to eat pork and pork products that are cooked to an internal temperature of 70 degrees Celsius or above.
The CFS spokesman said that all imported live pigs from the Mainland must come from registered farms and be accompanied with animal health certificates issued by the Mainland authorities.
"The FEHD inspects the certificates and health of the imported pigs at the boundary control points. Pigs also have to go through ante-mortem and post-mortem inspections in the slaughterhouses.
Only pigs that pass the inspections can be supplied to the market and sold for consumption," he said.
Apart from the enhanced inspection of imported live pigs, the FEHD has reminded slaughterhouse staff and people who might be in contact with live pigs to pay attention to personal hygiene, and to wear masks and appropriate protective gear at work.
The CFS has been in close liaison with the Mainland authorities over any abnormal situation concerning Mainland farms supplying live pigs to Hong Kong, and farm inspection would be stepped up as necessary, the spokesman added.
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