Wednesday, October 28, 2009


H1N1 virus pandemic is invariably being described as Swine Flu though it was identified as a mutant version scientifically and pigs were not the main source of infection. Flu epidemic becomes rampant during winter times as the weather condition is conducive to its growth and transmission and during the last century there were several flu epidemic episodes killing millions of their victims. Comparatively the present episode is milder with mortality figures not alarming yet. There are dire predictions that during the forthcoming regular flu season, there could be higher human casualty compared to that in last year. At least pigs will not blamed if these predictions come true.

On the contrary, it appears pigs are becoming vulnerable to transmission of H1N1 virus from human beings as reported in Europe. "This is the first time that swine flu has been diagnosed on pigs in Norway, and the mass slaughtering is a measure to prevent the disease from spreading. The slaughtered animals will be burnt in a refuse disposal plant. The animals had contracted the infection through contact with a human, who has been carrying the disease" If it can happen in Norway, the potential is there for large scale reverse transfer of the infection in other pig rearing countries also unless adequate precaution is taken to insulate pig farms from carriers of H1N1 virus.

Some harm has already been done to the pork industry due to the false alarm raised during the initial phase of the pandemic, consumers and importing countries shunning pork and pork products because of misplaced fear of contracting the disease. Avian flu and mad cow disease which created panic amongst consumers, also affected the industry very badly and it is time we learn a lesson from these episodes not to press the panic button prematurely without really comprehending the situation.


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