Experts with the World Heath Organization say they are not surprised that the H1N1 virus has infected hundreds of pigs in a central Alberta farm.

The provincial government said on Saturday that the pigs were exposed to the virus from a farm hand who returned from Mexico with flu-like symptoms.

“I must say we expected that at some point since this virus has swine virus elements that we would find possibly in swine in a region where the virus is circulating,” said Dr. Peter Ben Embark, a WHO food safety scientist, during a briefing in Geneva.

Embark says flu surveillance should be increased in both humans and animals now since the virus spread into a herd of pigs in Alberta that has now under quarantine.

There is no need to cull any pigs because of the outbreak, advised Embark.

“It is not a food-borne disease,” he said. “We have to take measures to avoid unnecessary exposure of humans to sick animals.”

Seven more human cases have been found in Alberta, health officials revealed on Saturday. Of the seven cases, two women, one man and a little girl from the Edmonton area were stricken with the illness, said officials.

Of the seven cases, five have been to Mexico and one person contracted the virus in Alberta. So far, there are 15 recorded cases of the H1N1 virus in the province.
with files from reuters