H1N1 negative

Canada’s chief public health officer says the people who live on an Alberta pig farm where pigs were found to be infected with swine flu have tested negative for the virus.

Canada’s chief public health officer says the people who live on an Alberta pig farm where pigs were found to be infected with swine flu have tested negative for the virus.

A number of people living on the unidentified pig farm experienced flu-like symptoms after the pigs fell ill and were tested to see if they too were infected.

But Dr. David Butler-Jones says tests suggest the people were not infected with the H1N1 swine virus.

Butler-Jones says, though, that there may have been “sampling issues” and blood samples from the people will be tested for antibodies to look for a definitive answer on whether they were infected. He won’t say how many people were tested or what he means by sampling issues.

The pigs are thought to have been infected by a worker who had been in Mexico and was ill on his return to work in mid-April. The unidentified carpenter also tested negative for the virus, but it is believed that is because he was too far along in his recovery to be still shedding virus.

On Wednesday, the federal government said pork is safe to eat despite a warning by the World Health Organization that the swine flu virus could survive in slaughtered pigs.

“Canadian pork is safe. There is no danger,” Agriculture Minister Gerry Ritz insisted Wednesday after serving up pork sandwiches to MPs and government workers on Parliament Hill.

Earlier, a WHO official said the pig strain of the H1N1 virus may withstand freezing and persist in the thawed meat and blood of infected animals.

Meanwhile, the swine flu scare is costing Alberta’s pork industry about $1.7 million a week in lower prices and other costs, producers were told during a video-conference Wednesday.

“The economic impact is actually quite significant,” said Herman Simons, chairman of Alberta Pork.

“I hope it won’t go on very long,” said Simons.

“If this goes on very long we have major problems.”

Simons was one of three Central Alberta producers who came to Red Deer to listen in on the conference involving his organization, University of Calgary’s Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, the Office of the Chief Provincial Veterinarian, and the Alberta Veterinary Medical Association.

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