Third Australian piggery quarantined with swine flu

MELBOURNE, Aug 25, 2009 (AFP) - A third Australian piggery was placed in quarantine due to suspected swine flu Tuesday as the number of human deaths from the virus reached 132.

Authorities ordered a biosecurity lockdown at the piggery in Queensland state amid concerns influenza A(H1N1) could mutate and return to humans in a more deadly form.

Two other piggeries, one in New South Wales and the other in Victoria, are already under lockdown after tests confirmed animals had been infected with the virus.

Biosecurity Queensland chief vet Ron Glanville said samples from pigs at the latest affected property were being examined and results should be available within days.

"Biosecurity officers have placed the piggery under quarantine and are implementing strict on-site biosecurity measures," Glanville said.

He said the piggery would be isolated so the infection could "burn out" within the pig population as quickly as possible.

Authorities say swine flu in pigs does not affect pork products.

Health experts fear swine flu in humans, which is easily spread but has a relatively low fatality rate, could mutate in other animals and emerge in a more virulent form.

Swine flu has hit 33,844 people in Australia, with 440 people hospitalised, 100 of them in intensive care.

Human trials are underway for a vaccine, with mass immunisation of the entire population scheduled to begin in October.

Source: AFP

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