WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The pandemic H1N1 flu virus was confirmed in a flock of breeder turkeys in Virginia -- the first U.S. case involving turkeys, the U.S. Agriculture Department said on Monday.
The virus also has been found in hogs, three house cats, pet ferrets and a cheetah in California. USDA said infections of turkeys have been reported in Canada and Chile.
“This is the first detection of 2009 pandemic H1N1 influenza in turkeys in the United States,” said a USDA spokesperson.
“There is a possibility that a worker, who was sent home ill with flu-like symptoms, could have infected the turkeys as a result of the artificial insemination processes, as the worker was a member of the insemination crew.”
USDA said people cannot get the flu from eating turkey meat.
Swine flu viruses are known to affect quails and turkeys periodically, said USDA. USDA’s Agricultural Research Service conducted two studies this year to see if the H1N1 pandemic virus could affect turkeys or other domestic fowl. Five turkey samples collected in mid to late November contained the virus.
Reporting by Charles Abbott; Editing by Marguerita Choy