Breaking down the swine flu
April 28, 2009
With people across the globe being sickened by an unknown strain of swine influenza, there is a universal concern about how the virus developed and the safety of eating pork. A University of Minnesota expert who can explain the virus is:
Mark Whitney associate Extension professor and Swine Extension Program leader
Whitney stresses that there is no risk for individuals of being infected with swine flu from eating pork or other meat products that have been properly handled and cooked. Most influenza viruses, including swine flu and this new flu virus, are not spread by food.
While swine flu outbreaks have occurred before, Whitney says this is a unique version that we haven't seen before. A more appropriate name would be Hybrid Flu or North American Flu, since this is a newly emerged H1N1 virus that as of now has not been reported in any pigs or other animals, just humans.
For pork producers they should enhance their biosecurity plans to reduce the risk of introducing any virus or pathogen onto their farms. Develop strict sick leave policies for workers presenting flu-like symptoms, implement biosecurity for workers reporting international travel, limit visitors to swine facilities and enforce hygiene practices.
The university's Extension Swine program is in the process of developing and collecting resources regarding swine flu and the new influenza virus and will be updating its website in the next few days. http://www.extension.umn.edu/swine/
Marie Gramer, assistant clinical professor of veterinary population medicine in the College of Veterinary Medicine at the University of Minnesota
As a diagnostician and researcher in the University of Minnesota Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory, Gramer can discuss her research involving the antigenic and genetic characterization of swine influenza viruses (SIV), pathogenesis of SIV infections in pigs and the possible impact these viruses may have on pig health.
To interview one of these experts, contact the University News Service, (612) 624-5551.