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California declares swine flu emergency

By Mike Stones , 29-Apr-2009

California became the first US state to declare emergency status as the number of its laboratory-confirmed swine flu cases reached 10 with 64 cases now identified across the country, according to the Centers for Disease Control.

This declaration, which formalises co-ordination between local public health offices and the California Emergency Management Agency (CEMA), is designed to speed up government’s response to the threatened pandemic. It orders all state agencies and departments to use state personnel, equipment and facilities to assist the Department of Public Health (DPH) and the State Emergency Plan as coordinated by CEMA.

Yesterday, California also became the first state to conduct its own confirmatory testing for swine flu, removing the need to send samples to the Centers for Disease Control.

Swine Influenza

Seeking to allay public concern, Richard Breitmeyer, California state vet, said:

It is important to understand that there are no reports of swine flu in pigs in California, or the United States. Our monitoring program is aimed at detecting the illness early in pigs. It also is important to recognize that swine flu is not a threat to the food supply. According to the Centers for Disease Control, you cannot get swine influenza from eating pork or pork products. Eating properly handled and cooked pork and pork products is safe.”

California Department of Food and Agriculture’s top priority is to test any pigs that are linked to a human swine flu case or are showing signs of a respiratory disease. So far, no such human links have been established. Also, no swine samples have been submitted for testing due to respiratory disease.

California is a relatively small pork producer with fewer than 100,000 animals, making it the 28th largest swine-producing state in the union.

Slaughter plants

CDFA’s second aim is to allay public fears related to swine health. The association is focusing on communication and outreach with the California Department of Public Health by sending material to: Future Farmers of America; Grange members; fair managers; animal control directors; custom slaughter plants, agricultural colleges and universities, vets, markets, feed stores and others.

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