The Canadian Food Inspection Agency has confirmed that two of its inspectors caught swine flu in late April while investigating an outbreak on an Alberta pig farm.
The cases appear to be the first reports of people catching the new H1N1 virus from pigs, though the agency says it can’t be 100 per cent certain the two caught it from the pigs.
A report into the incident reveals the inspectors didn’t take the necessary safety precautions, at one point removing their protective masks while in the barn taking swabs from pigs.
The new pandemic virus is of swine origin, but has only been found in pigs on three occasions, the Alberta farm and twice since in Argentina.
In all those cases it is thought that infected people introduced the virus into the swine herds. Experts say it is no surprise the virus could come back from pigs to people, but say trying to prevent that interspecies transmission is important.