The OIE strongly counsels against the culling of pigs in response to the A/H1N1 influenza that started in North America, calling it ‘inappropriate’.
Scientific information currently available to the OIE and partner organisations indicates that this novel A/H1N1 influenza virus is being transmitted amongst humans; there is no evidence of infection in pigs, nor of humans acquiring infection directly from pigs.
Moreover, and despite the fact that the currently circulating A/H1N1 influenza virus is not simply a swine influenza virus (it has reassortant genetic material of human, avian and swine origin), it is important to note that swine influenza has not been shown to be transmissible to people through eating pig meat or other products derived from pigs.
Pig culling inappropriate
The OIE advises that the culling of pigs will not help to guard against public or animal health risks presented by this novel A/H1N1 influenza virus and such action is inappropriate. Instead, Members should focus their efforts on appropriate disease surveillance and strengthening the general biosecurity measures applied at premises where pigs are handled and slaughtered.
The OIE is collaborating with its network of reference laboratories and collaborating centres, as well as with the World Health Organization and the UN Food and Agriculture Organization in scientific investigations on the current situation and will if needed issue further advice regarding biosecurity and trade measures in due course. Thanks to these current investigations, the pathogenicity (if any) of the circulating virus for animals should be known shortly and, once known, will be the subject of a further communication from the OIE.