Swine flu monitoring needed for farm workers, study says

Feb 11, 2008

A University of Alberta study recommends that workers on pig farms be monitored as part of influenza pandemic preparedness, after a child on a communal farm in Canada was diagnosed with swine flu in 2006.

Though the seven-month-old boy made a full recovery, health researchers were concerned because of evidence that the virus spread to other members of the multi-family community, who, fortunately, all demonstrated mild or no apparent illness. It has been known for a long time that avian and swine strains of flu can spread to humans, with avian strains appearing to be more dangerous than swine strains; as of late 2007, the avian flu had killed 194 people in 321 cases reported worldwide.

Of the 90 people on the farm tested by the University of Alberta and a team of other researchers with provincial and federal health agencies, 54 were tested for positivity to the flu strain, thought to be of swine origin. Besides the baby boy, four of seven other household members and four of 46 other people living on the farm tested positive. The strain of flu was also detected in one of 10 young pigs on the farm. The child apparently had no direct contact with the swine.

“The concern is that swine viral strains could adapt into a form that results in efficient human-to-human transmission,” said Dr. Joan L. Robinson, a professor at the University of Alberta in Edmonton, Canada, a pediatrician at the Stollery Children’s Hospital, and lead author of the study, which was published recently in the journal Emerging Infectious Diseases. Swine flu in humans is “under-recognized in Canada, but it has the capacity to become a problem,” she added. “Early recognition that swine strains are becoming more virulent might expedite both implementation of ideal infection control precautions for symptomatic cases and vaccine development.”

Rather than workers on livestock farms being responsible for recognizing their own flu symptoms, there should be a public health program in place that leads to specific measures if an unexpected number or severity of cases of flu-like illness occur in swine workers. No health program targeting swine workers currently exists, Robinson notes.

Source: University of Alberta

Explore further: World Bank: world 'dangerously unprepared' for pandemics

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Obama recommends extended wilderness zone in Alaska

9 hours ago

US President Barack Obama said Sunday he would recommend a large swath of Alaska be designated as wilderness, the highest level of federal protection, in a move likely to anger oil proponents.

NASA craft set to beam home close-ups of Pluto

9 hours ago

Nine years after leaving Earth, the New Horizons spacecraft is at last drawing close to Pluto and on Sunday was expected to start shooting photographs of the dwarf planet.

Navy wants to increase use of sonar-emitting buoys

11 hours ago

The U.S. Navy is seeking permits to expand sonar and other training exercises off the Pacific Coast, a proposal raising concerns from animal advocates who say that more sonar-emitting buoys would harm whales and other creatures ...

Uganda seizes massive ivory and pangolin haul

11 hours ago

Ugandan wildlife officers have seized a huge haul of elephant ivory and pangolin scales, representing the deaths of hundreds of endangered animals, police said Sunday.

Recommended for you

Researchers gain new insights into hypothyroidism

14 hours ago

An international research team led by physician-scientists at Rush University Medical Center has gained new insights into hypothyroidism - a condition affecting about 10 million people in the U.S. - that may lead to new treatment ...

User comments : 0

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.