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Human-to-pig H1N1 spread said key

Oct. 25, 2009 at 11:23 AM   |   Comments

WASHINGTON, Oct. 25 (UPI) -- Limiting the transmission of the H1N1 swine flu virus from humans to pigs is just as important as stemming its spread among people, scientists say.

The news that 11 pigs at this year's Minnesota State Fair tested positive for H1N1 put a focus on how the virus can be spread into pigs from humans, and health specialists say more needs to be known about industrial pig farms that can act as "amplifiers" of pandemic flu strains, The Washington Post reported Sunday.

"The thing we're concerned about is if this (novel H1N1) virus gets into pigs and then comes back out of pigs into people," Michael Osterholm, director of the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy at the University of Minnesota, told the Post. "The question is what may happen to the genetics during the time it's in pigs."

Experts say keeping viruses out of pigs then stopping the spread among the animals is a key element of preventing epidemics among humans. But most American pig farmers are reportedly reluctant to know if the H1N1 virus is present among their herds, mainly because consumers react by rejecting pork even though the virus cannot be spread that way.

© 2009 United Press International, Inc. All Rights Reserved. Any reproduction, republication, redistribution and/or modification of any UPI content is expressly prohibited without UPI's prior written consent.
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