The pandemic (H1N1) 2009 influenza virus is a new virus subtype of influenza A (H1N1) viruses that spreads from
human to human
and is causing a human influenza pandemic in accordance with the declaration made by the
WHO on 11 June 2009.
The pandemic (H1N1) 2009 influenza virus contains gene segments from pig, bird and human influenza viruses in
a combination that has never been observed before. Apart from humans, the virus has been found on some rare occasions
in pigs in North America, South America, Australia and Europe including some Member States. So far there is no evidence
that animals play a role in the spread of this pandemic influenza which is primarily a human disease. However, it is expected
that more infections will occur in pigs given the wide circulation of the virus in the human population.
While pandemic (H1N1) 2009 influenza virus detections in animals are to date rare events,
classical swine influenza (SI) viruses circulate widely in many pig populations around the world, including the EU.
In relation to these viruses, a monitoring programme has been ongoing under an
EU research programme in the context of
research on influenza viruses.
There is no evidence suggesting that the pandemic (H1N1) 2009 virus behaves in pigs in a different way from the other classical influenza viruses of pigs that only cause a
mild respiratory disease. Besides pigs, turkeys and ferrets have shown to be susceptible to the pandemic (H1N1) 2009 influenza virus in nature.
Related information on pandemic (H1N1) 2009 influenza in animals has been published by:
OIE / WHO / FAO.
Swine influenza is not a food borne zoonoses. Furthermore, EU hygiene requirements for the slaughter of pigs do not allow that
sick animals are transported to the slaughterhouse. The obligation to have veterinary inspection in slaughterhouses for the
assessment of the clinical conditions of the animals so that only healthy animals are slaughtered (ante-mortem inspection) and the
controls made on the carcasses for the assessment of any pathological lesion along the slaughter line (post-mortem inspection) carried
out in accordance with EU rules give additional guarantees that pigs displaying clinical/pathological signs are excluded from entering the food chain.
The statements made by the OIE
adequately address the issue of safety of pork and pork products for human consumption in relation to influenza.
The Veterinary Laboratory Agency, Weybridge, UK (Community Reference Laboratory for Avian Influenza) has
been assigned by the Commission to carry out in collaboration with other EU laboratories pig infection studies with
the pandemic (H1N1) 2009 influenza virus. These aim at better understanding the role of the pig in the epidemiology of the current
epidemic in humans. Preliminary results of these studies and related publications are available under: http://www.defra.gov.uk/vla/science/sci_si_pubs.htm
A brainstorming meeting of scientists, risk assessors and risk managers on the pandemic (H1N1) 2009 influenza at
the human animal interface organised by the Commission with the support of ECDC and EFSA took place on 9 June 2009 in Brussels.
It focused on the potential risks posed by that virus at the interface between humans and animals. Scientists from the public health,
animal health and food safety field from the EU, USA, Canada and Russia attended the meeting.
Agenda and presentations
Conclusions of the meeting
Surveillance/monitoring and control measures for the pandemic (H1N1) 2009 influenza virus in pigs
Pandemic influenza (H1N1) 2009 at the interface between animals and humans is regularly
discussed at the meetings of the Standing Committee on the Food Chain and Animal Health. Member
States have endorsed updated guidelines presented by the Commission on surveillance, monitoring and
control measures to be put in place if the pandemic (H1N1) 2009 influenza virus enters EU pig farms .
The pandemic (H1N1) 2009 influenza virus is primarily a human disease that cannot be transmitted to humans
via pork or pork products. However, in several countries including some EU Member States pigs have been found infected with this
virus, most likely due to human-to-pigs transmission. In order to be prepared, possible prevent and properly react to this virus
entering EU pig farms, a set of proportioned measures has been agreed to reduce the risks both for animal and public health.
The key principles of the measures are vigilance, proportionality and flexibility. In case the pandemic
virus enters a pig farm in the EU culling of pigs is not considered in general as an appropriate measure,
while enhanced biosecurity and movement controls may lead to a die out of virus in a farm and prevent virus spread to other farms.
Surveillance/monitoring and control measures for the pandemic (H1N1) 2009 influenza virus in poultry
Up-to date infection of poultry - so far only turkey breeders - is a very rare event. However, in order to be prepared in case the virus is detected in a poultry holding in the EU the Commission has drawn up guidelines on surveillance/monitoring and control measures for the pandemic (H1N1) 2009 influenza virus in poultry which were endorsed by Member States during the meeting of the Standing Committee on the Food Chain and Animal Health on 30 November 2009.
A conference on "Influenza at the human-animal interface" organised by the Commission in the frame of the Veterinary week was held on 30 October 2009.
Presentations given at this meeting can be opened by clicking on their titles in the programme.