Despite The Continuing Spread Of H1N1, Pork Products Remain Perfectly Safe

I just received an update from the CDC, confirming there are now 896 cases of H1N1 (Swine Flu) in 41 states. Interestingly, here in Arkansas (where I spent the last two days mingling with outstanding health professionals), there hasn’t been a single case.

Here’s the current national tally:

•  Alabama:  4
•  Arizona:  48
•  California:  106
•  Colorado:  17
•  Connecticut:  4
•  Delaware:  38
•  Florida:  5
•  Georgia:  3
•  Hawaii:  3
•  Idaho:  1
•  Illinois:  204
•  Indiana:  15
•  Iowa:  5
•  Kansas:  7
•  Kentucky:  2
•  Louisiana:  7
•  Maine:  4
•  Maryland:  4
•  Massachusetts:  71
•  Michigan:  9
•  Minnesota:  1
•  Missouri:  4
•  Nebraska: 4
•  Nevada:  5
•  New Hampshire:  2
•  New Jersey:  7
•  New Mexico:  8
•  New York:  98
•  North Carolina:  7
•  Ohio:  5
•  Oklahoma:  1
•  Oregon:  15
•  Pennsylvania:  2
•  Rhode Island:  2
•  South Carolina:  17
•  Tennessee:  2
•  Texas:  91 (and 2 deaths)
•  Utah:  8  
•  Virginia:  11
•  Washington:  23
•  Wisconsin:  26

In any event, despite the spread of H1N1 throughout the country, I simply wanted to note, once again, that pork products, and Arkansas, remain perfectly safe...

It is also (in my mind) equally important to point out that, wherever we live, we shouldn’t let the flu ruin our fun. Despite 26 confirmed cases in Wisconsin, I look forward to returning home tomorrow (in a small, confined airplane), and promptly ordering myself a cold beverage and, more important, a Johnsonville brat . . .

Farm Worker Gives H1N1 (Swine) Flu To . . . Pigs

Oops. A hog farm in Alberta is under quarantine after Canadian pigs caught the Hybrid H1N1 Flu from a farm worker. The pigs were exposed to the virus after a worker at a family-run farm returned from Mexico with flu symptoms. This is the first time the new H1N1 influenza strain has been found in pigs.

Canadian officials stressed that the outbreak (involving approximately 200 pigs in a herd of 2,200) has been fully contained, assured the public that the country's food supply is safe, and stressed (again) that there is no risk of contracting the illness by eating pork. Echoing recent comments from the CDC and USDA, Canadian health officials stressed there is “no evidence the virus can be transmitted through eating pork.” Click on the following link to read Agriculture Secretary Vilsack's commnets on the Canadian Outbreak.  Moreover, even if pork could become contaminated (through cross contamination or other means), which is very unlikely, we know that cooking pork to 160 degrees readily kills any pathogens that might be present.

Here at home, the CDC has confirmed approximately 226 human cases of the flu in 30 states. And, as far as we can tell, American pigs remain completely unaffected.

Swine Influenza Now Officially Referred to as "H1N1 Flu"

According to the CDC, “swine influenza” has been officially renamed as "H1N1 Flu." The name change follows urging by the U.S. pork industry and others to remove any references to “swine” when describing the virus (for more information, please visit our previous post on the subject). As we reported previously, the current strain is a hybrid of avian and hog viruses, and has nothing to do with “swine.” Moreover, despite extensive testing, the hybrid virus has not been found in pigs, and pork products remain entirely safe to eat.

The H1N1 virus is carried and spread person-to-person through coughing or sneezing. The symptoms of the H1N1 flu in people are similar to the symptoms of regular seasonal influenza, and can include fever, lethargy, lack of appetite and coughing. Some people with the flu also have reported runny nose, sore throat, nausea, vomiting and diarrhea.

People can stay healthy by following simple precautions. Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze, wash your hands often with soap and water, especially after you cough or sneeze (alcohol-based hands cleaners are effective), and avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth (most germs are spread that way). Currently, 141 cases have been confirmed in 19 states.

Despite the continuing spread of the H1N1 flu, the virus is susceptible to the prescription antiviral drugs oseltamivir and zanamivir. As a result, the U.S. Government and manufacturers have begun the process of developing a vaccine against this new virus.

For more information, please visit the CDC H1N1 Flu Website.