Contact: Jeff Beach
(TRENTON) – While no swine in New Jersey have been identified as being infected in the H1N1 influenza outbreak that has spread through human populations in Mexico, the United States, and other countries, veterinary officials are advising swine farmers to take precautions against the transmission of the influenza virus to their animals.
“Since this is a virus that health officials believe can be transmitted to swine, we’re urging caution by swine farmers,” said State Veterinarian Dr. Nancy Halpern.
Dr. Halpern said pork producers should take precautions, including:
- Do not permit anyone with flu-like symptoms in or around the barns – including animal caretakers and employees.
- Do not allow visitors to the farm – especially international visitors who have had contact with other livestock.
- If pigs show flu-like illness – coughing, runny nose, fever and/or a reduction in feed intake – call your veterinarian and the State Veterinarian with the New Jersey Department of Agriculture at 609-292-3965 to have the animals tested.
- Continue to employ good biosecurity and best management practices to reduce the risk of diseases such as influenza – for information on biosecurity go to: www.state.nj.us/agriculture/divisions/ah/news/biosecurity.html and www.nj.gov/agriculture/images/photo_library/bmpanimalposter.pdf
- Follow sanitary practices to eliminate the spread of disease – this applies to people as well as vehicles, equipment, and animals. Wash your hands frequently and especially before and after handling animals.
Despite some countries imposing international trade embargoes on U.S. pork, eating pork is not considered a risk factor in contracting the disease. U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack has reported that the United States Department of Agriculture is working to reverse the embargoes and reiterates the message to U.S. trade partners that “our pork and pork products are safe.”
According to scientists at USDA, influenza viruses are not transmitted by food, so a person cannot get the H1N1 Influenza virus from eating pork or pork products. Thoroughly cooking pork to an internal temperature of 160o F kills all viruses and other food-borne pathogens. Eating properly handled and cooked pork and pork products is safe. As always, practice safe raw food handling, including washing hands with warm water and soap for at least 20 seconds before and after handling raw pork; preventing cross-contamination by keeping raw pork away from other foods; washing cutting boards, knives, and countertops with hot, soapy water after cutting raw meat.
Farmers with questions about their hogs’ health, who are interested in having hogs tested, or have other animal-health questions related to the influenza outbreak, please call the State Veterinarian at 609-292-3965.