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Evidence Shows H1N1 Prefers People Rather than Animals
Dr. Cate Dewey - Ontario Veterinary College

Farmscape for November 25, 2009   (Episode 3360)

The Ontario Veterinary College says patterns of infection indicate that, although H1N1 influenza is capable of infecting multiple species, it clearly prefers people to animals.

Influenza viruses infect the lung cells of the host, whether a person an animal or a bird, where they reproduce.

When a cell becomes infected by multiple viruses, the genetic material from those viruses can reorganize within the infected cell creating a new virus.

Dr. Cate Dewey, a professor of swine health management with the Ontario Veterinary College, says although H1N1 is a zoonotic disease people are primarily susceptible.

Clip-Dr. Cate Dewey-Ontario Veterinary College:
The H1N1 influenza virus originated from people.

It's a virus, a brand new virus, that's made up of component parts from a human influenza, a pig influenza and an avian influenza virus.

It was reassorted or made a new virus in a person.

We know that this virus grows very well in people, makes many people sick, it's quite a severe illness in people and it spreads very well from one person to another.

What that indicates is this virus attaches well to a lung cell in a person and multiples well in the lung cell of a person.

On the other hand when that virus got into pig farms it only affected about ten percent of the pigs in the barn meaning that it really doesn't grow very well in pigs.

Dr. Dewey says we know the H1N1 virus can spread quite easily from people to pigs, from people to ferrets and from people to cats but there's no evidence the virus can move from those animals back to people.

Because we know this virus spreads easily from a person, she encourages those people with the H1N1 virus to stay home, stay away from other people and very definitely stay away from the farm to avoid spreading the virus to animals.

For Farmscape.Ca, I'm Bruce Cochrane.

       *Farmscape is a presentation of Sask Pork and Manitoba Pork Council

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