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OIE position on safety of international trade of pigs and products of pig origin

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Paris, April 28 – 2009 Because
the current A/H1N1 related human health event has been described as
swine influenza, the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE) wishes
to  further clarify the facts from the animal health perspective,
particularly in relation to international trade of pigs and of products
of pig origin . The OIE also points out that  it will continue to
respond to new, incoming information as the situation evolves.

Information
available to the OIE does not indicate, at this time, that the
influenza outbreak currently occurring in the United States and Mexico
was preceded by an outbreak of swine influenza.

Within
a few days, scientific investigations that are currently under way
should indicate if the virus circulating in humans is capable of
infecting animal species, such as pigs, chickens and horses.

It
is not correct to call the current disease ‘swine influenza’. The virus
that is circulating includes genetic components of human, avian and
swine origin. The OIE proposed to refer to this new virus as ‘North
American influenza’, using the same approach to nomenclature as used
with the Asian influenza and Spanish influenza outbreaks that have
occurred in the past.

Given
there is no case of infection in animals confirmed in the zones where
cases of human infection have been detected, it is not necessary to
introduce specific measures for international trade in swine or their
products nor to consider that consumers of pork products are at risk of
infection.

The following
update, sent to the National Delegates of the OIE’s 174 Member
Countries and Territories, summarises the OIE position regarding the
safety of international trade in the context of the current influenza
situation.


Note sent today
to the OIE national Delegates from the Director General

I
am writing to inform you about the current situation with A/H1N1
influenza-like human illness in Mexico and the USA . The OIE is of the
view that as this virus has not, for the moment, been isolated in pigs
or other animals, it is not appropriate to call it ‘swine influenza’.
The OIE recommends that the virus be referred to as ‘North American
influenza’, in keeping with the naming of other outbreaks of influenza
in the human population. Nonetheless, this emerging disease is
genetically linked, amongst others, with H1N1 swine influenza and the
OIE is calling for scientific research to be started with urgency to
assist in clarifying the sources and the risks presented by this virus
to veterinary public health and to the different animal species (pigs,
poultry and horses).

Notwithstanding that this
human disease is not simply swine influenza, you would be aware that
swine influenza is not an OIE listed disease and there is currently no
justification in the OIE Terrestrial Animal Health Standards Code for
the imposition of trade measures on the importation of pigs or their
products. To date there is no evidence that the virus is transmitted by
food and influenza A viruses are generally not heat resistant.

In
the event that the virus associated with the current human disease is
shown to be circulating in animals in zones of countries that have
reported human cases of infection, this should be reported to the OIE
as an emerging disease. If appropriate, the OIE will develop official
recommendations to prevent and control any identified risks to public
health and animal health from livestock production and trade.

Please
note that an importing country has the right at any time to contact an
exporting country and to conduct an inspection or audit of the
situation as relevant to the importation of animals or animal products
(Section 5. Trade measures, import/export procedures and veterinary
certification).

Please see, for information, my public statement on this issue, which may be viewed at: http://www.oie.int/eng/press/en_090427.htm .

Bernard Vallat

Source: http://www.oie.int/eng/press/en_090428.htm

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