The National Veterinary Services Laboratory in Ames, Iowa is working to confirm a preliminary diagnosis of novel 2009 H1N1 influenza virus in swine samples, according to TwinCities.com. Results of the tests may be known as early as today.

Although the virus has been circulating widely in humans, if confirmed in the swine samples, it would be the first diagnosis of the virus in U.S. swine.

The samples were collected during the 2009 Minnesota State Fair between Aug. 26 and Sept. 1 for a research project conducted at the University of Iowa and University of Minnesota. At the time, the pigs were reportedly healthy and exhibiting no signs of influenza-like illness.

Minnesota state officials suspect the pigs caught the virus from fairgoers, although they can't be sure. The animals each had a different owner and were tested on different days.

A number of children housed in a dormitory during the fair became ill with influenza-like symptoms at the time these samples were collected but there is no known direct link between the pigs and the children. Given the widespread occurrence of the virus in the human population, many pork industry officials have been expecting the virus to eventually be confirmed in swine.

Saying the spread was expected, Minnesota State officials tried to allay concern. "There's no evidence there's a change in the virus, but that is a concern," said Joni Scheftel, public health veterinarian with the Minnesota Department of Health.

It was not immediately clear if the suspected animals have been slaughtered. “It seems likely the infected animals were sent to slaughter, the typical pattern," said Gene Hugoson, Minnesota's commissioner of agriculture. When asked whether the public should be concerned about that, Hugoson said: "Not to my way of thinking."

Pork industry officials as well as USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack remind consumers that even if the novel virus is confirmed, people cannot catch influenza from eating or handling pork.

Health officials stressed that human-to-human transmission is the real battleground in the pandemic.

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Source: TwinCities.com Pioneer Press