Technology & Science

Swine flu inspector showed no symptoms: CFIA

A federal inspector who contracted swine flu from a quarantined Alberta pig farm wasn't showing any signs of illness before taking a commercial flight to Winnipeg, the Canadian Food Inspection Agency said Wednesday.

Alberta Health Services says workers had sore throats a day after inspecting farm

Two CFIA staffers got sick a day after taking nasal and blood samples from pigs in a barn on this central Alberta farm.
A federal inspector who contracted swine flu from a quarantined Alberta pig farm wasn't showing any signs of illness before taking a commercial flight to Winnipeg, the Canadian Food Inspection Agency said Wednesday.

But a report by Alberta Health Services, which interviewed the inspector and another CFIA employee who contracted the H1N1 virus, says the workers began to feel symptoms as early as a day after taking nasal and blood samples from pigs for two hours on the night of April 28.

The Alberta report, obtained earlier in the week by CBC News, says the inspectors said they developed sore throats the day after taking samples on the farm near Rocky Mountain House, about a three-hour drive from Edmonton.

The sore throats were followed by symptoms of cough, fatigue, sweats and headache, the report said.

One of the workers was asked to fly to Winnipeg to deliver the samples in a cooler to the federal virology lab. It is unclear when the inspector travelled or whether the inspector had infected anyone else on the flight.

On May 7, it was confirmed the inspectors had contracted swine flu, the Alberta report said.

H1N1 samples 'posed no risk' to passengers: agency

The CFIA declined to be interviewed about the procedures it followed but offered a written response on Wednesday insisting the samples brought on the plane "posed no risk" to those on board.

"We have confirmed that the employee checked the cooler in as baggage," the CFIA's statement said. "The employee received the baggage in good condition at the final destination."

When asked to explain the contradictory accounts of when the workers' symptoms began, the CFIA said it stood by its statement that to the best of its knowledge, there were no signs of illness at the time of the flight.

The two workers wore protective gear during the April 28 inspection but did not follow proper protocols with the equipment.

The inspectors should have decontaminated their clothing and skin, as well the pig samples, but failed to do so.