DoA's Swine Flu Response
Following the declaration of a public health emergency regarding swine flu - which is a combination of swine, bird and human flu - local agriculture officials are taking precautionary steps with regard to the local pig population.
While there is currently no incidence of swine flu in the Cayman Islands, Director of Agriculture Adrian Estwick says that his department's veterinary staff members have already tested more than 300 local swine for the presence of the Influenza A virus.
"The survey is not yet complete, but reports thus far are negative for the presence of this virus," he said.
Mr Estwick further explained that the DoA is unable to test locally for the specific virus that causes swine flu. Instead, if any positive Influenza A samples are found, they will be sent to the US for further testing. "To date, there are no reports of flu-like viruses in the local pig population and we would like to keep it that way," he said.
In the interim, the department is considering imposing a temporary restriction on the importation of live pigs. However, live pig importation into the Cayman Islands is rare, the last occurrence being in December 1998. For artificial insemination purposes, semen was last imported in May 2005.
Responding to questions concerning contaminated pork, Mr Estwick explained: "There is no evidence of swine influenza being transmitted by meat."
A letter received from the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) Caribbean Basin Agricultural Trade Office Director Sarah Hanson also confirmed this and advised that pork and pork products remain safe for human consumption.
Her letter also stated that there have been no reports of Influenza A H1N1 occurring in swine in the United States.
For additional information on swine flu, visit the Centre for Disease Control website link - www.cdc.gov/swineflu/key_facts.htm.
For further information contact: Kenisha Morgan