Md. Dept. of Agriculture says none of the pigs has shown signs of the flu since last week.
Frederick, Md (KM) The end is near when it comes to the pigs at the Great Frederick Fair who were infected with swine flu. Dr. Mike Radebaugh, the Maryland State Veterinarian, says since last Thursdays, none of the 120 pigs under quarantine at the Fairgrounds has shown signs of the flu. “We’re anticipating that we can release the hold order sometime at the end of this week,” he says.
Dr. Radebaugh also says the quarantine placed on three Frederick County farms last week could also be lifted by the end of the week.
“The next step will be the cleaning and disinfecting process which we’ve already given the Fair personnel that information on how best to do that,” he says. After the area where the pigs were displayed is cleaned, Dr. Radebaugh says there won’t be any swine in that building until next year.
The area where the pigs were displayed was closed on the final day of the Fair after several swine became sick. Maryland Department of Agriculture officials took nasal swabs of the pigs and sent them off to a laboratory for analysis. 11 came back as Influenza A. The swabs were later tested at the National Veterinary Service Laboratory in Ames, Iowa. They came back with H3N2, the type can transmit from pigs to humans.
With swine flu cases in pigs reported in Frederick and Charles Counties, Dr. Radebaugh was asked if this could be a pattern. “We haven’t really seen that in the state since 2012,” he responded.
“Be interesting to see what CDC and the National Veterinary Services Lab come up with to see what type of strain this is, the genetic coding of this. And then we’ll know whether it indeed was transmitted from swine to human or human to swine.” Dr. Radebaugh says. That information probably won’t be available for about four weeks.
The Maryland Department of Health says as of Monday, 37 human cases of presumed and confirmed cases of swine flu have been detected so far in Frederick, Anne Arundel and Charles Counties. Two of those individuals required hospitalization at Children’s National Medical Center in Washington DC.
Dr. Radebaugh also says state officials will gather together to see what lessons have been learned from these multiple cases of swine flu. “Well, there’s always room for improvement. We’ll be getting together and having after action reports after next week. Hopefully, we’ll learn from this. I’m sure we will. There’s always something we could do better,” he says.
One action to help slow the spread of swine flu is to display pigs for no more than three days at the State Fair and the many county fairs around Maryland. “Three days for the 4H pigs and then three days for the open pigs,” he says. “If we could do that–or less than three days–that would be helpful.”
Many pigs displayed at county fairs often end up being slaughtered for ham, bacon and pork chops. Dr. Radebaugh says the meat of these pigs who contract swine flu and recover is safe to eat. “As long they pass the anti-mortum exam. They have to have a normal temperature–the temperature for a pig is about 102 degree Fahrenheit–and that they’re not showing any clinical signs of any disease, not just swine influenza,” he says.
By Kevin McManus