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April 29, 2009   Email to Friend 

AG COMMISSIONER: 'PORK MEAT IS SAFE TO EAT'
Christy Rhodes Kirk
(334) 240-7103
April 29, 2009

MONTGOMERY, Ala. ---- Commissioner Ron Sparks says the Department of Agriculture and Industries has implemented an emergency response plan as a precautionary measure in response to the recent outbreak of the swine influenza virus in the United States. Sparks and State Veterinarian Dr. Tony Frazier have stayed in constant contact with the Alabama Department of Public Health, veterinarians statewide, the state's diagnostic laboratory system and the Alabama Farmers Federation.

"There are two important things to remember: we have not had a case of swine flu in Alabama pigs, and pork meat is safe to eat," said Sparks. "This is another strain of flu and we don't want to overreact unnecessarily just because it is called "swine flu," but it is something to be concerned about and anyone with flu-like symptoms should contact their healthcare facility."

Frazier stresses that reports of sick pigs in the state are rare due, in part, to the decline in swine production across the state over the past several years. Nevertheless, Frazier has directed the state diagnostic lab system to be aware of the outbreak and to report and test any sick swine for this virus. In addition to the commercial swine industry, anyone who raises backyard pigs should call their veterinarian or the state veterinarian for assistance if they have any swine with symptoms of illness.

"Swine raised in the commercial swine industry are in highly controlled environments under heavy biosecurity for this very reason," said Frazier. "The swine industry closely monitors these animals for signs of disease. The likelihood of commercial swine getting sick from this strain is very low, but we are still taking precautions."

For more information, visit the Alabama Department of Public Health Web site or www.cdc.gov/swineflu.


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