Despite its name, don't blame the recent outbreak of H1N1 or too commonly calls "swine" flu on pigs, says Scott McVey, director of the Veterinary Diagnostic Center at the University of Nebraska.
Swine influenza is a sub-variant that developed from a family of viruses and got its name simply from the history and evolution of the virus, he points out. It comes from a family of viruses with elements of human, swine and avian viruses.
"Pork is not to blame for the flu and properly inspected pork is safe to eat," he says. "Pork really is getting a bum rap for all this." "None of the North American instances of this flu have been linked to direct contact with pigs. But, some of the ancestors of this current virus probably did come from swine."
The virus has been isolated by the Centers for Disease Control, although it is still unknown if the virus can replicate in pigs. The virus does spread from person to person.
McVey urged pork producers to continue to use standard biosecurity practices to prevent this flu sub-variant from becoming an issue on their operation. The reality is humans could expose pigs to this new virus, and it is unknown how the infection would react within the animal.
The CDC continues to work with on this issue around the clock, McVey notes. Many of the North American cases of the virus have been traced back to recent visits to Mexico. None have any known direct link to swine.
Source: University of Nebraska