MONTGOMERY, AL - As the H1N1 virus, or Swine Flu as it is commonly refered, becomes a greater concern for American families, officials continue to stress that the flu had nothing to do with pigs and cannot be contracted through consumption of pork or pork products.

However, U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack is announcing that the USDA's National Veterinary Services Laboratories (NVSL) has confirmed the presence of 2009 H1N1 influenza virus in a pig sample collected at the Minnesota State Fair. Government officials said additional samples are being tested.

"We have fully engaged our trading partners to remind them that several international organizations, including the World Organization for Animal Health, have advised that there is no scientific basis to restrict trade in pork and pork products," said Vilsack. "People cannot get this flu from eating pork or pork products. Pork is safe to eat."

Sequence results on the virus isolate are compatible with reported 2009 pandemic H1N1 sequences. The samples collected at the 2009 Minnesota State Fair were part of a University of Iowa and University of Minnesota cooperative agreement research project funded by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention which documents influenza viruses where humans and pigs interact, such as fairs.

The infection of the fair pig does not suggest infection of commercial herds because show pigs and commercially raised pigs are in separate segments of the swine industry that do not typically interchange personnel or animal stock. USDA continues to remind U.S. swine producers about the need for good hygiene, biosecurity and other practices that will prevent the introduction and spread of influenza viruses in their herd and encourage them to participate in USDA's swine influenza virus surveillance program.

"While H1N1 is a serious concern, the presence of the virus in these types of pigs was bound to happen even without symptoms of illness," said Sparks.  "In addition to heightened awareness by the State Veterinarian, the staff from the State Veterinarian's office was present at the National Fair in Montgomery to answer questions about H1N1 and observe the animals.  We take this type of illness seriously in Alabama and our staff met with the Alabama Department of Public Health's staff and National Fair staff prior to the event to ensure that steps were taken to help protect the public while they were at the fair and visiting the exhibitions.  And of course, a very important thing to remember is that pork products are safe to eat."