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Industry: Piggery Workers Not Being Tested for H1N1

by 5m Editor
10 August 2009, at 10:49am

AUSTRALIA - Piggery workers who are showing only mild symptoms of flu are having difficulty convincing doctors to test them for H1N1 flu, the pork industry says.

Australian Pork Limited says it has received feedback from pig producers who are finding it "extremely difficult" if not impossible to get their workers tested when they go to their GP and present with flu-like symptoms, writes Simon Jenkins.

Health authorities changed the requirements for testing of all members of the public in June when the government reviewed its response phase to the nation's swine flu outbreak, to 'protect'.

Under the protect measure, testing would only focus on identifying H1N1 among people with moderate to severe illness and pathology testing of all potential cases stopped.

Industry concerns were heightened after a NSW piggery near Dunedoo in the NSW central west was quarantined because the property's pigs tested positive for swine flu.

The piggery's owner raised the alarm with health authorities resulting in a lockdown of stock last Friday.

It's believed the piggery's workers may have transmitted the virus to the pigs.

"Piggery workers are having difficulty diagnosing for sickness they have if they are showing some symptoms of the disease," Australian Pork Limited CEO Andrew Spencer told AAP.

As in the general community, there were plenty of pig workers who were ill. It was in producers' best interests that they knew whether or not their staff had swine flu, he said.

"We just want the option to be available where producers are willing to pay for it for those tests to be conducted, because for the pork industry it's very important knowledge that can lead to some very important decisions being made."

Once they find out the costs, pig producers could make a sound decision on whether they wanted to get their staff tested.

"But at least they have that option, I think is something that we should be looking into."