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Pandemic (H1N1) 2009: the OIE reiterates its recommendations to animal health authorities worldwide

While the virus continues to spread among humans worldwide, the role of animals has not yet been demonstrated in the epidemiology or spread of the pandemic H1N1 2009

Paris , 13 July 2009 – The pandemic H1N1 2009 virus continues to spread among humans worldwide currently causing mild symptoms in the majority of cases; however, there is no evidence at this time that animals are playing any role in the epidemiology or the spread of the virus.

Public and animal health experts worldwide continue their joint effort on scientific research aimed at better understanding the virus and providing recommendations for its prevention and control. The OIE is in the process to expand the scope of its current Reference Laboratories for avian influenza to include expertise on all animal influenza viruses and emphasize research on the behavior of these viruses at the human-animal interface. The OIE/FAO global network OFFLU already extended its scope of actions by including influenza viruses’ diagnosis and research in pigs.

Taking into account all available scientific information, the OIE considers that the recommendations issued since the first appearance of the pandemic H1N1 2009 virus are still valid. They are re-emphasized below:

  • national veterinary services must ensure a high level of awareness in the veterinary and producer community and effectively monitor animal populations for clinical signs of respiratory disease, use appropriate confirmation diagnostic methods and rapidly report the initial occurrences of the disease in animals to the OIE by using the qualification of "emerging disease";
  • should the presence of the "pandemic H1N1 2009 virus" be detected on a farm, the holding should be subject to a surveillance plan and movement restrictions applied until recovery; the transfer of clinically healthy pigs from the farm to the slaughterhouse can be done using basic bio-security measures. ;
  • the culling of pigs will not help to guard against public or animal health risks presented by the virus. As for any other disease, slaughtering of sick pigs for human consumption is not recommended;
  • the imposition of ban measures related to the import of pigs and pig products from countries with human or animal cases are pointless and do not comply with international standards published by the OIE and all other competent standard setting international bodies for animal health and food safety;
  • in the case of countries deciding to cull pigs on the basis of the principle of precaution, culling of animals should always be carried out in accordance with OIE international standards on animal welfare and killing methods for disease control purposes (Volume 1; Section 7; Chapter 7.6 of the Terrestrial Animal Health Code;;
  • pork and pork products, handled in accordance with good hygienic practices jointly recommended by the WHO, FAO, Codex Alimentarius Commission and the OIE, are not a source of infection from the virus;

The OIE strongly encourages the effective implementation of international standards by all and offers its assistance to any Member wishing to comply with its standards.