Lets Not Repeat the Same Mistakes With H1N1 As We Did With BSE

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In Central Alberta, a 2200 head swine herd is under quarantine after the CFIA confirmed the H1N1 virus presence. According to a press release by the Government of Alberta, the pigs were exposed to the virus by a farm worker who recently returned from Mexico with flu symptoms.

I’m just glad to see not only the Canadian government, but the veterinarian’s involved informing the public that there is no food safety risk. Whether or not the public believes it is another story. Just as we saw in the BSE debacle a few years ago, consumers are prone to the media message, no matter its accuracy. The implication of pork being affected is purely due to the “Swine Flu” naming of the H1N1 virus, as it carries the same negative connotation as “Mad Cow Disease”. I cannot make the same compliments to the World Health Organization (WHO), who came out this week and said there is a health concern which is contrary to scientific opinion from several sources.

Look at how Egypt is handling the situation. While culling all of the 250 000 pigs in the country will not prevent the transmission of the virus, as there is no evidence of pigs passing the virus to humans. And there hasn’t even been a reported case of H1N1 in Egypt, whether human or porcine.

The pork industry has enough adversity to face as it is, and does not need false, negative media attention. I just hope that the consumers base their decisions on facts, not fear. We just got over BSE, lets not let that happen to the pork industry.

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