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World Organisation for Animal Health

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Non official information relating to avian influenza and pigs

The World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE) is aware of information presented by a scientist from the People’s Republic of China relating to infection of pigs by H5N1 virus, the virus currently responsible for the outbreaks of avian influenza in poultry in Asia.

OIE has therefore sought additional information from the Veterinary Authorities of China who work in close collaboration with the OIE as regards sharing of scientific information on animal diseases. The Chinese authorities have confirmed to the OIE that, since the recent outbreak of avian influenza in poultry in China, an epidemiological surveillance programme has been in place in China and over 1.1 million samples from birds and pigs have been tested. However, no infection has so far been detected in pigs.

Pigs are known to be susceptible to infection with avian influenza viruses and isolation of H5N1 virus in this species in the absence of clinical signs would at this stage only indicate that these animals have been in contact with the virus.

Under the present circumstances, the OIE recommends that countries which have reported outbreaks of avian influenza closely monitor pigs which are in contact with infected birds and cull those in which the presence of the virus is confirmed.

OIE is closely monitoring the situation regarding avian influenza infection in animals and is working in close collaboration with FAO and WHO, to assess the possible implications for H5N1 infection in humans.