Ontario man contracts H1N1 variant after contact with pigs

Reuters – An Ontario man has been infected with an H1N1 variant influenza virus after having had close contact with pigs.

“I would like to reassure Ontarians that this variant influenza virus rarely spreads from animals to humans,” said Arlene King, Ontario’s chief medical officer of health.

“Subsequent human-to-human transmission is also rare. I would also like to stress that this is not a food-safety issue — the consumption of properly cooked pork continues to be safe. Proper cooking of meats, including pork, kills all bacteria and viruses.”

H1N1 is a swine flu virus responsible for 2009 pandemic that spread around the world in six weeks. It rocked the global pork trade when about a dozen countries temporarily restricted Canadian pork imports after the virus spread to a pig farm in the province of Alberta.

“The identification of this case is the result of the strength of our current surveillance system here,” King said. “It is not an unexpected occurrence, and there have been a number of human infections with variant influenza viruses in the United States over the past year.”

Officials are still investigating where the man, who had contact with swine in Canada and the U.S., contracted the virus.

The case is unlikely to cause the same backlash against Canada by pork importers that it did in 2009, said Martin Rice, executive director of the Canadian Pork Council.

“H1N1 sends off alarm bells in certain people’s minds simply because of their recollection, but by no means is this looked at as something that will evolve into a big health undertaking that would have implications for trade,” he said.

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