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Outbreak Contained as Infected Pigs on the Mend

by 5m Editor
6 August 2009, at 11:24am

AUSTRALIA - An outbreak of swine flu at a central NSW piggery has been contained.

However authorities have urged farmers to remain alive to the danger posed by the highly contagious disease.

The 2000-animal piggery at Dunedoo, in the state's central west, was quarantined on Friday after tests confirmed that several pigs had caught the A H1 virus, believed to have been transmitted to them by staff.

But the disease has not spread outside the farm in Dunedoo and the health of the pigs diagnosed with the disease is improving, according to the NSW Department of Primary Industries.

None of the Dunedoo animals has entered the food chain, reports The Australian.

A telephone conference was arranged yesterday between state, territory and federal representatives from the health and agriculture sectors. It was decided quarantine measures at the farm would only be reconsidered when the pigs were no longer suffering the flu and after they had recovered fully for seven days.

Alan Sharrock, a veterinary surgeon at the affected farm in Dunedoo, said an overreaction among the general population had done the pig industry harm as people inevitably link swine flu with pork.

But he quoted a colleague who said: "I'm safer kissing a pig than kissing my wife."

Federal Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry spokesman John Cobb yesterday highlighted concerns over Australia's feral pigs, calling on the NSW government to begin an immediate surveillance program to ensure they "do not become a reservoir for the A H1 flu virus".

Mr Cobb urged the NSW government to undertake an immediate feral pig control program in the Central West, including shooting, baiting and trapping, to prevent the disease coming back "as a meaner, nastier, deadlier virus".

Neil Franks of Aztec Farms Piggery, who keeps between 6000 and 7000 pigs on his farm in Myall Park, near the southern NSW centre of Griffith, said swine flu remained a concern for pig farmers across the state.

"We are closely monitoring the situation with our staff and making sure that they are fit and well," he said.

Mr Franks's wife, Merilyn, said they had been taking precautionary measures for the past two months -- ever since cases of swine flu were first reported in the local Griffith community.

The farm always has a closed herd, whereby no stock is taken in from any other property, but in response to swine flu, staff have been instructed to minimise their contact in the wider community and not to travel by air.

"We're a bit scared about airports, sports events and picture theatres," she said.

Mrs Franks said sales had been affected as a result of fears among the population.

The farm's processors have reported a fall in sales of 10 per cent, despite experts confirming that there is no danger from eating pork products.