Nasal swabs were taken from the pigs.
Frederick, Md (KM) The investigation continues by the Maryland Department of Agriculture into how 11 pigs being displayed at the Great Frederick Fair came down with Influenza A, often known as swine flu.
The agency was contacted over the weekend by the Fair when the pigs started showing signs of illness: coughing, high fever, no desire to eat or move around. MDA field veterinarians responded and took nasal samples from the pigs. “We sent those to our lab on Sunday, and all 11 came back as positive for Influenza A virus,” says Dr. Mike Radebaugh, Maryland’s State Veterinarian.
He says it’s uncertain what type of Influenza A has infected these pigs and whether it can transfer to humans. “More subtyping will be done at our National Veterinary Service Laboratory in Ames, Iowa,” says Dr. Radebaugh. He says those results could come back on Tuesday or Wednesday. Meanwhile, those 11 pigs and others at the Fair were placed under quarantine.
Dr. Radebaugh says there are 150 types of Influenza A, including H1N1 or H3N2.
Four hogs in Charles County tested positive for the H3N2v version of swine flu Monday of last week, and Fair officials in Frederick were on high alert. H3N2v can be transferred to humans who come in close contact with infected pigs.
Dr. Radebaugh calls swine flu a “short lived virus,” and many pigs recover within three to four days with the proper care. “Very few pigs will die from it, 1 to 3%,” he says. “You could have up to 30% to 40% of the pigs that show will show the clinical signs.”
Dr. Radebaugh says it’s also very rare that Influenza A can be transmitted from pigs to humans. But, he says, if you feel you may have been exposed to swine flu after coming into contact with the pigs at the Great Frederick Fair, you should contact your health care provider. If it is Influenza A, health care providers need to report that to the Frederick County Health Department by calling 301-600-1733.
And after they recover, he says the disease will not affect the pigs when they are slaughtered for meat that’s eaten by humans. “This is a respiratory virus. It’s not a virus that affects the meat and muscle of the swine,” Dr. Radebaugh says.
By Kevin McManus