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No Need To Fear Pork

Filed under Latest News, Rural

September 7, 2012

Influenza in pigs is like influenza in humans … it’s a regular occurrence, and although it needs to be managed, there’s no need to fear pork or pork products.

That’s the message this afternoon from John Coward, a pork industry veteran and current president of industry group Queensland Pork Inc.

A Biosecurity Queensland spokesman confirmed today that a commercial piggery near Kingaroy had been quarantined as a precaution after a higher number of deaths than usual occurred in a group of pigs.

These deaths have been linked to Influenza A and bacterial infections.

The piggery is a “farrow to finish” breeding property with about 400 animals.

“Unfortunately it gets a bit sensationalised when someone says ‘quarantine’,” Mr Coward told southburnett.com.au

“Influenza is a regular occurrence, year in and year out, particularly at winter time, aligned to what you see in the workplace.

“Quarantine is only a simple way of managing it on the farm.”

Mr Coward said it was important to emphasise that only healthy pigs go to slaughter, and there is no risk of anyone getting sick from eating pork or pork products.

He said the pigs possibly caught the flu, which had been identified as the H1N2 variety, from a worker.

“It’s not an exotic disease; it’s a normal occurrence,”  Mr Coward said.

“However the industry takes a very pro-active stance designed to limit its spread to other pigs. All pigs are kept under treatment until well.”

Biosecurity Queensland had taken blood samples at the piggery and had left strict instructions on how the animals were to be managed.

Inspectors from the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry were also undertaking regular checks.

Mr Coward said pigs cannot be sent to slaughter until they have shown no symptoms for seven days, and they cannot be sent to other piggeries.

A statement from Biosecurity Queensland said about 40 pigs had died at the piggery after showing respiratory signs.

Other groups of pigs on the property were healthy.

“Influenza A in pigs can be caught from people and then spread among the pigs. There is no evidence that the workers on the piggery have caught anything from the pigs,” the Biosecurity Queensland spokesman said.

“As a precaution, the property has been quarantined and movement restrictions have been put in place. Biosecurity measures on the property have been enhanced to contain the disease, limit its spread and to ensure workplace health and safety.

“Healthy pigs are being allowed to go to slaughter and there is no risk from eating pork or its products.

“In general, producers are reminded to ensure on-farm biosecurity plans and practices are up-to-date and should immediately report unusual health signs in their animals to a veterinarian.”

To avoid infecting their pigs with influenza, pig owners should:

  • Ensure piggery workers are vaccinated against the flu
  • Discourage workers with flu-like symptoms from attending work
  • Limit visitors to their piggeries
  • Ensure they maintain a high level of disinfection and cleaning practices
  • Minimise access of wild birds to piggery water sources, feed and sheds.

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2 Responses to No Need To Fear Pork

  1. Chris Petersen

    I am appalled by the handling of this whole episode by the piggery concerned.

    This situation has been going on for over two weeks, yet no one on neighbouring properties was informed. This is an area with several small holdings in a rural residential setting and homes are situated close to the piggery.

    No signs were placed until a couple of days ago … and when a sign was put up it was NOT placed on the road frontage where it could be seen by those living in the area, but placed near the piggery office, at the top of the driveway, where it’s almost impossible to see from the road.

    As to *Quarantine* and *Bio security measures*… this is laughable … because there was one MAJOR leak … (pun intended) …

    This piggery pumps its effluent (that’s pigs body fluids mixed with water to those who don’t know) onto neighbouring properties for use as irrigation. Normally this does not cause a problem, HOWEVER the property owners should have been, but were NOT told of the outbreak of disease.

    Two weeks ago, when the pigs started dying in large numbers, the piggery had a duty of care to STOP pumping the effluent onto neighbours’ properties and to inform them of the situation … instead the Manager encouraged them to continue.

    These people were handling pipes which were covered in the fluid … a health risk, which they werent aware of, putting themselves, their families and friends at risk.

    As to “Biosecurity measures have been enhanced to contain the disease” … did an officer actually go down to the effluent pond and see where it was going? The body fluids were leaving the piggery via the pipes and were being spread around on neighbouring properties!

    There may be no risk from *eating pork* but unknowingly handling infected body fluids? (Don’t talk about protection, even the best gloves and boots leak).

    As to *Strict instructions as to how the animals were to be managed*, did they even think of the effluent and where it went ?

    It’s all well to say *Flu is just Flu* but flu kills the elderly, the very young and those with respiratory problems, and there is also the chance it can mutate into something much worse.

    People were frightened by the Swine Flu scare of two years ago, and rightly so.

    The neighbours whose properties were involved are saddened that the piggery did NOT think of its responsibility to tell them of this, which does not do anything for the piggery’s local public relations.

    The right course of action would have been to STOP pumping effluent immediately and for the Biosecurity officer to visit the property owners and explain the health risks. After all, at the time they weren’t even sure what the disease was!

    It remains to be seen if the piggery owners will apologise for their treatment of these neighbours, or if they will just ignore them, as seems more likely.

  2. Chris Petersen

    Please Note. Property owners only found out about this situation when the story broke on Friday, however they took pro-active action and all people involved were told, and all connections to the effluent were immediately disconnected.