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Prime Suspect Cleared In Alberta H1N1 Herd

Acarpenter who returned from Mexico to an Alberta farm where pigs became infected with the H1N1 flu virus did not spread the disease to the animals, as previously believed.

Alberta Health and Wellness said blood tests showed the man did not have H1N1 and so could not have infected the animals.

It had been widely reported the man was considered the carrier. He had returned from a trip to Mexico, where H1N1 is prevalent, and went to work at the farm near Rocky Mountain House April 14. The man then went home with flu-like symptoms. The pigs later exhibited similar symptoms. Serological tests confirmed the pigs had H1N1.

It is the first documented case in the world of pigs contracting this H1N1 virus. Previously, it was not known if the H1N1 strain affecting humans could spread to swine, despite its common name “swine flu.”

The owner of the farm was forced to destroy his entire herd of 3,000 pigs because he could not sell the animals.

Exactly how the pigs got H1N1 is not known, since there is now no apparent link between them and a carrier.

However, as of Monday, the Canadian Food Inspection Agency had not changed information on its website implicating the worker returning from Mexico as the likely carrier.

Pork producers blamed public hysteria stemming from the Alberta case for a sudden drop in hog prices just as markets were starting to recover from an 18-month slump. This despite public health assurances that people cannot get the flu from eating pork.

However, analysts suggested a recent spike in the value of the Canadian dollar was probably more responsible for the abrupt price slide. [email protected]

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