FEHD releases results of regular influenza virus surveillance in pigs from February to April

Hong Kong (HKSAR) - The Centre for Food Safety (CFS) of the Food and Environmental Hygiene Department today (May 18) announced results of the regular influenza virus surveillance programme on pigs at the Sheung Shui Slaughterhouse conducted by the University of Hong Kong (HKU) for February to April this year.

Among some 1,100 samples tested, no human swine influenza virus (pandemic H1N1) was detected.

A total of eight samples were found to contain viruses that were essentially swine influenza viruses but had picked up some genes of the human swine influenza virus.

According to Professor J S M Peiris, the HKU expert in charge of the surveillance programme, such viruses are unlikely to pose any major human health risks or cause problems in food safety.

Under the programme, the CFS has been helping HKU researchers to collect blood and tracheal and nasal swabs from pigs at the Sheung Shui Slaughterhouse twice a month to monitor influenza virus activity in pigs.

"Starting from the next cycle (covering results for May to July), regular reports and relevant data of the surveillance programme will be uploaded to the CFS website (www.cfs.gov.hk) on a quarterly basis for public information. Results of the surveillance programme will be announced immediately if findings have significant impact on food safety and public health," a spokesman for the CFS said.

According to the World Health Organization, the World Organization for Animal Health and the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, human swine influenza will 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.

"Imported live pigs from the Mainland come from registered farms and are accompanied with animal health certificates issued by the Mainland authorities, and all pigs have to go through ante-mortem and post-mortem inspections in slaughterhouses before being supplied to the market and sold for consumption," the spokesman added.

The CFS has been keeping 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 when necessary.

In addition, the Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department also closely monitors the health situation of pigs in Hong Kong and regularly reminds local pig farmers to maintain good farm and personal hygiene and report to the department any abnormality in farms.

Published on: 2012-05-18

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