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Flu name change may be too late

A decision by the World Health Organization (WHO) to cease calling the latest flu virus originating in Mexico “swine flu” has done little to calm disarray in world hog and pork markets.

 “From today, WHO will refer to the new influenza virus as ‘influenza A (H1N1)’,” the  WHO said in an announcement posted on its website.
 
Despite assurances from the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE) that there has been no link demonstrated between pigs and the current strain of flu, world trade in hogs and pork is in turmoil and Egypt has even taken the drastic step of a mass slaughter of up to 400,000 animals.

 “The OIE advises members 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,” the Paris-based organization said in a statement.

 “Scientific information currently available to the OIE and partner organizations 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,” the OIE said.

The U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) concurred.  “Stepping up swine influenza control measures in pigs, in the absence of the A/H1N1 virus, such as control of movements and culling, is not justified,” said Joseph Domenech, chief veterinary officer of the FAO.

News reports from Egypt say officials are seizing and slaughtering pigs from farms in the Nile Valley, often without compensation.

Meanwhile, several countries have slapped import bans on hogs and pork from Mexico, the U.S. and Canada.

Countries placing bans on U.S. imports of pork and/or swine include  Russia, China, South Korea, Kazakhstan, Ukraine, Serbia , Croatia, Thailand, Philippines, United Arab Emirates, Indonesia, Honduras, Saint Lucia, Ecuador, Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras.

Countries banning Canadian imports of pork and/or swine include Croatia, El Salvador, Honduras, Japan, Philippines, South Korea and Ukraine.

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