New Flu Virus Detected in Pig Farm Workers

CANADA - A new type of flu virus has been confirmed in two hog farm workers in western Canada's Saskatchewan province, health officials said yesterday.
calendar icon 8 July 2009
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The virus was found when the workers were undergoing tests for A/H1N1 flu virus after they showed mild flu-like symptoms about two weeks ago, according to Moira McKinnon, the province's chief medical health officer.

Lab results revealed something different and unusual. Further examination determined that a new strain of flu had emerged, he said.

Mr McKinnon stressed that the virus was considered not pandemic and has been named "non-pandemic influenza A virus." The virus may have been a "one-off" event, he said, noting that laboratories have not come across any other examples of the strain detected.

"These events do happen, and they do happen occasionally," Mr McKinnon told reporters at a news conference in provincial capital Regina. "In the current heightened scenario, we've picked this one up. It will probably not transmit. It will probably go no further than it's gone already."

The two workers have totally recovered. A third worker may have also contracted the same new strain and is under test.

It is not clear how the workers came to contract the new virus, but they had not been outside of the country.

Mr McKinnon said that workers associated with the barns, which are located in eastern Saskatchewan, will be administered general flu shots. It was believed that the current seasonal influenza immunization would be effective against the new strain.

Saskatchewan's chief veterinarian Dr. Greg Douglas said there is no sign that pigs have been infected by the new flu. But bio-security measures include requiring workers to shower before entering barns, and monitoring the health of all workers have been put in place.

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