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The Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries has said that there is no evidence that the ‘Swine Influenza’ which continues to devastate several countries across the globe, originated in animals.
At a meeting of the National Emergency Animal Disease Committee (NEADCOM) yesterday (April 29), at the Veterinary Services Division of the Ministry, it was stressed that the disease appears to be a human disease, and that there was no evidence of a threat to the food chain.
“We don’t want our local producers of pork to be isolated and to be considered a part of the problem, if they are not a part of the problem. And, as of now, we have no evidence to suggest that they are part of the problem,” Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries, Dr Christopher Tufton, stated
“As a matter of fact, we have evidence to suggest otherwise, that they are not a part of the problem,” he added.
Dr Tufton said that the current strain of influenza is being seen for the first time, and that scientists have said it could take up to six months to develop a vaccine. But, in the meantime, the Ministry has increased surveillance of its animal stocks as a precautionary measure, he said.
He stated that the Ministry has also had several meetings, addressing the country’s capacity to respond should the virus appear in Jamaica. He disclosed that the Ministry has already put in place mechanisms, so that emergency supplies and equipment can be accessed, if needed.
Dr. Tufton noted that public education would be critical during this period, and it was important not to create panic in the process.
“One of the things we don’t want is for people to bring their lives to a standstill. We don’t want trade to be totally halted because, clearly, we survive on trade with our partners,” he stated.
Symptoms of Swine Influenza 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 World Health Organisation has raised an alert over the spread of Swine Flu to level five, which is one short of a full-blown pandemic. There have been confirmed cases in the United States, Mexico, Canada, The United Kingdom, Germany, Israel and Austria.

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