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A/H1N1 influenza like human illness in Mexico and the USA: OIE statement

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Paris, April 27 – 2009 A
virus circulating in Mexico and the USA and involving person to person
transmission appears to cause in some cases severe disease in certain
people infected by this virus. There is no evidence that this virus is
transmitted by food.

It is not a classical human influenza virus called seasonal influenza,
which causes every year millions of human cases of influenza worldwide
but a virus which includes in its characteristics swine, avian and
human virus components.

Any
current information in influenza like animal disease in Mexico or the
USA could support a link between human cases and possible animal cases
including swine. The virus has not been isolated in animals to date.
Therefore, it is not justified to name this disease swine influenza. In
the past, many human influenza epidemics with animal origin have been
named using their geographic name, eg Spanish influenza or Asiatic
influenza, thus it would be logical to call this disease
“North-American influenza”.

Urgent scientific research must be started in order to know the
susceptibility of animals to this new virus, and if relevant to
implement biosecurity measures including possible vaccination to
protect susceptible animals. If this virus would be shown to cause
disease in animals, virus circulation could worsen the regional and
global situation for public health.

Currently, only findings related to the circulation of this virus in
pigs in zones of countries having human cases would justify trade
measures on the importation of pigs from these countries. The OIE will
continue its alert function and will publish in relation with its
Members, Reference Laboratories and Collaborating Centres all
appropriate information in real time.

OIE and FAO underline the great value of the influenza veterinary
laboratory network called OFFLU, in charge of the surveillance of the
evolution of influenza viruses in animals. There is a strong need to
reinforce this network whose members are urged to put immediately in
the public domain any genetic sequence of influenza virus they obtain.

This influenza event underlines in all countries the crucial importance
of maintaining worldwide veterinary services able to implement in
animals early detection of relevant emerging pathogens with a potential
public health impact. This capacity is fully linked with veterinary
services good governance and their compliance with OIE international
standards of quality.

April 2009

Source: http://www.oie.int/eng/press/en_090427.htm

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