The California Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA) is monitoring and responding to the current swine flu outbreak in conjunction with federal and state agencies.

"It is important to understand that there are no reports of swine flu in pigs in California, or the United States, at this time," said California State Veterinarian Dr. Richard Breitmeyer. "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 Center 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."

CDFA’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. CDFA veterinarians are working closely with public health officials and to date no such human links have been established. Similarly, there have been no swine samples submitted for testing due to respiratory disease. In comparison to many states, California is a relatively small pork producer with fewer than 100,000 animals, ranking 28th in the country.

CDFA’s second key objective is to reduce apprehension related to swine health. CDFA currently is focusing on communication and outreach with the California Department of Public Health by sending material to: Future Farmers of America; Grange members; 4-H groups; fair managers; animal control directors; custom slaughter plants; anyone who has submitted a swine sample to the California Animal Health and Food Safety Laboratory in the past year; agricultural colleges and universities; the California Veterinary Medical Board; the California Veterinary Medical Association; accredited veterinarians; sales yards; and feed stores.

CDFA veterinarians are also visiting all known swine farms to drop off swine flu information, look into the general health of herds and test any pigs showing signs of respiratory disease. The veterinarians also will monitor the check-in for swine at fairs around the state to provide general information and examine and test any pigs with a history of respiratory disease. Pigs determined to be sick will not be allowed to stay at the fair.

The California Animal Health and Food Safety Laboratory will test all samples from swine submitted to them for swine influenza at no charge to the owner. As of today there have been no recent submissions. Meat and poultry Inspectors regularly inspect California licensed swine processing facilities and will continue to monitor for any signs of respiratory disease. To date, there have been no concerns reported.