H1N1 Not Feared as Pathogenic But Still a Concern

CANADA - A Steinbach swine veterinarian says, in hindsight, the novel H1N1 flu has not been as pathogenic as first feared but it remains a threat, writes Bruce Cochrane.
calendar icon 7 December 2009
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Zoonotic diseases was among the topics discussed last week as part of Manitoba Hog days 2009 in Brandon.

Zoonotic diseases are diseases that can be transferred among animals and people and they have recently gained public attention as a result of the H1N1 outbreak.

Dr Peter Provis, with Steinbach based Swine Health Professionals, told those on hand most diseases are species specific and will infect only pigs or only cattle or only people but on occasion these viruses will cross the species barrier.

Dr Peter Provis-Swine Health Professionals

There's been a long history influenzas in people.

The big one of course was the Spanish flu in 1918 and it wasn't dissimilar to this virus that's arisen lately and I think that's why there's been a lot of concern in the eyes of the public health officials and it's difficult or impossible for them to predict whether it's going to be pathogenic or not.

We are blessed with hindsight now.

We can look back at a couple of waves of this virus or this infection and see that at the end of the day it hasn't been as pathogenic as we had first feared but perhaps it hasn't all been played out yet and there's a potential for this virus to change and that is why public health officials are vigilant and they're still urging people to get vaccinated.

This virus has not primarily been an animal virus.

It seems like from it's origin to this point it's been primarily a people to people thing.

We don't see much of it in pigs.

It does not affect the poultry industry.

There has been some noted in turkeys but the bulk of this virus is residing and moving and transferring within the human population.

Dr Provis says we've seen a number of the emerging zoonotic diseases arise in areas where there is a lot of interspecies contact, pigs living with chickens living with people and cattle where there is close intimate contact and the ability for these viruses to intermingle and change.

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