Are Pigs Really a Flu Threat to Humans?

Are Pigs Really a Flu Threat to Humans?

Last year’s “swine flu,” later renamed “H1N1 virus” sent many Americans into a panic. Let’s face it—it doesn’t really take much for us to do that. That said, it was a pretty scary disease for a while there, and with so many films about apocalyptic diseases wiping out humanity—not to mention the many diseases we already have, like malaria, that brutally kill—who could blame us in our fear?

We were told over and over again not to fear pigs. The pork industry was outraged as sales plummeted, while people refused to touch bacon or sausage while the flu spread. (Truthfully, avoiding these fatty foods is a great idea with or without the threat of flu, seeing as they are full of hormones and fat, contribute to poor animal welfare and environmental destruction, and are a product of the disgusting factory farm industry, for the most part.) They slowly began to eat pork again when it was revealed that you could not get sick by eating the meat—well, at least, not contract this particular disease by ingestion, anyway.

But it turns out that there may be some merit to the idea that pig pens are a breeding ground for disease—mainly, the flu. American pig farms may, in fact, be “flu factories,” according to a fellow from Harvard University. The reason for this is that the pigs are not monitored well, as the farming industry is reluctant to release information about them to health officials—and the results of pig flu tests are kept confidential.

Now, call me crazy, but if anything should be available for public viewing, shouldn’t it be the tests conducted on the crap we put in our bodies? We hear that only about one percent of the food we import is really inspected, and we also hear about food recalls every year, yet it never seems like much is done about it. Wouldn’t it be a good idea to, I don’t know, reduce the number of paper pushers in this country and instead make more jobs in the food regulation industry? We could probably solve the economic problems right now by cutting wasteful spending (perhaps freezing congressional pay raises while we’re at it?) and instead creating new jobs in food inspection alone.

Inspecting pigs would be a great place to start, since they actually do give people swine flu directly through live contact—but by the time the CDC is notified, it’s always too late to even find the pig that may have had the flu to begin with.