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    Jamaica’s National Emergency Animal Disease Committee is monitoring local pig farmers to ensure that all safety measures are in place to protect animal and public health in light of the outbreak of swine flu in Mexico and other countries.
    Director of the Veterinary Services Division of the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries, Dr. Osbil Watson, told JIS News that there have been no confirmed reports of the disease in Jamaica so far.
    He is however urging veterinarians, animal health technicians and pig farmers to be extra vigilant and immediately report unexplained swine illnesses to the Division. He said that diseases like swine flu can be spread to humans and so close monitoring is warranted.
    Dr. Watson said that the division will continue to monitor importation of live swine semen, pork and pork products and impose restrictions if necessary. “However pork meat and other products are still safe for consumption at this time,” he stated.
    He has advised consumers to cook pork properly, as well-cooked meat is normally safe for consumption because microbes would have been killed. “There is no need for panic in terms of eating pork at this time,” he added, noting that “the division will keep the nation updated as we go along.”
    The Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (CDCP) website describes the most recent strain of swine flu, isolated in pigs, as the type A HINI virus. It says human contamination is most common among persons in direct contact with infected pigs. Symptoms in people are similar to those of seasonal influenza and include lethargy, fever, sore throat and a runny nose. It is detected through laboratory testing.
    Symptoms in pigs include fever, red eyes, coughing/barking, discharge from the snout and loss of appetite.
    The virus can be spread from people to pigs, pigs to people and people to people. Among pigs, it is through direct contact with contaminated objects or people and among people, through coughing, sneezing handling objects and personal contact, the CDCP says.

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