Aporkalypse now! Essential H1N1 “don’t call it swine flu” reading

Smithfield smeared: The Mexican government's chief epidemiologist said it's "highly improbable" that the Smithfield-operated Veracruz factory farm is responsible for the nation's swine-flu outbreak. Why? Pigs at the farm are from North America, while the genetic material in the virus is from Europe and Asia. Article also details the pleasing news about how Smithfield's in a panic over the bad PR and its shares have dropped nearly 3%. (Wall Street Journal)

Um, don't they need you guys?: Mexico's government is suspending all nonessential activity of the federal government and private business as the number of confirmed swine flu cases jumped to 160. (MSNBC)

Swine flu may be accurate after all: The pork industry is squealing over naming the new virus swine flu, since it's supposedly a blend and hasn't been traced to any pigs, nor can you catch it from pork. (New York Times) Obama has begun referring to it as the H1N1 virus, "evidently in deference to U.S. pork producers," says the AP. Meanwhile, Tom Laskawy digs up an "intriguing notice" posted to the International Society for Infectious Diseases by Columbia University researchers suggesting that the current swine flu outbreak may be a 'reassortment' (i.e. rearrangement) of existing swine flu viruses and not a swine, avian, and human influenza combo. (Grist)

If you're right, you're a hero; if you're wrong, you're an Internet arsonist: Praising blogs for goosing mainstream media (aka MSM) to investigate whether industrial hog farms might be the swine flu outbreak’s “ground zero,” this article credits FoE Tom Philpott at Grist to be the first to blog the possible connection. But since so far there seems to be no direct link, bloggers get spanked for being on the wrong side of asking tough questions vs. jumping to conclusions. (Columbia Journalism Review) Related: Longtime science journalist (and vegan!) Merritt Clifton also says the evidence just isn't there yet, and premature finger-pointing ain't helpful. (Grist)

WashPo raises more Qs than provides As: An interview with a Johns Hopkins professor of molecular microbiology and immunology about swine has us scratching our head. To wit: "The swine A/H1N1 virus has genes from human, swine and avian influenza virus strains. An animal had to have been infected with three different kinds of influenza viruses to generate this particular virus. Housing farm animals together in common pens or yards is one way of transmitting viruses from one species to another. But such housing is not necessarily unsanitary; these are the most common ways small farmers keep their animals." OK… so small farms birthed this pandemic? Uh-huh. (The Swine flu may be all swine, see above or here.) Next: "Influenza in pigs is a respiratory disease, so there is much less risk associated with pig waste…In birds, the flu virus is primarily transmitted via the oral-fecal route, so there is a risk of exposure to avian influenza from an infected bird's waste." OK, but if H1NI is a mixture, isn't it possible it's transmitted by waste? (Washington Post)

The silence of the pigs: Egypt has begin preemptively slaughtering its roughly 300,000 pigs. This may have something to do with the fact that Muslims consider pigs unclean animals and do not eat pork because of religious restrictions, but Egypt did the same with chickens during a bird flu outbreak. (The Associated Press)

As Israel Ignores Swine Flu Reality, Global Risk (The Atlantic Food Channel)

13 Responsesto “Aporkalypse now! Essential H1N1 “don’t call it swine flu” reading”

  1. Stephanie says:

    Brilliant roundup. I chortled while reading. But you forgot an all-important link: http://doihavepigflu.com/

  2. I have to agree that the link of the Mexican CAFO with this outbreak was pushed way too hard by the blogosphere.

    I think Tom Philpott is a great source and an insightful writer, but in this case he did push an idea based almost solely on some Mexican newspaper articles -- well, his interpretation of those articles -- and not much else. And many others in the blogosphere took that one post and ran with it as if it were a smoking gun or something, when it should have been presented as an interesting idea/theory, but not much more based on the available evidence.

  3. This is the most ridiculous thing I ever heard, swine and avian flu virus commingling.  Yeah, right, that will happen when pigs can fly.
    Oops!

  4. addie says:

    Excellent job.  I've linked your blog to mine.

  5. rey says:

    The U.S. Government and United Nations World Health Organization cooked this flu up in a lab for their sinister New World Order purposes.  Just two weeks before this flu started spreading, there were reports on YouTube of the Department of Homeland Security hiring truck drivers to transport bird flue and vaccinating them so they wouldn't catch it.  Baxter International (Chicago...Obama...cough) was also caught red handed not too long ago sending out vaccines contaminated with live avian flue to 18 labs.  This pandemic is on purpose.  It is either population control or a synthetic crisis meant to futher the NWO's agenda.  When they come out with the "vaccine" for this thing, do not take it.  The headline in the paper years from now may very well be "Vaccine causes sterility."

  6. rey says:

    And they are backpeddling from it being a combo of human, bird and swine flu only because that little bit of truth conclusively shows they created it!  They have to take that truth away quickly so the moron public doesn't see the NWO connection.

  7. coal_train says:

    Pardon the professor, but if the H1N1 virus has genes from human, swine and avian influenza virus strains, it is not necessarily true that an "animal had to have been infected with three different kinds of influenza viruses to generate this particular virus." If a pig contracted an avian flu virus and a swine flu virus they could combine to make a new strain. The people could also have contracted the new avian swine combo via feces, which then combined with a human strain of respiratory flu to make the new H1N1 transmissible via the air.

  8. rey, I've got a tinfoil hat in my basement closet that was once part of a robot costume. Seems like it would be a perfect addition to your wardrobe.

  9. Y'all are displaying your collective ignorance (excusable since you haven't studied viral epidemiology and virology for 15 - 30 years). Commingling of viral DNA particles is very common. It's gone on for thousands of years - it's how viruses survive. The details of this process are too intricate to include in a blog comment - or even on a blog post.  The H1N1 virus we currently are concerned about 1) was NOT artificially manufactured; 2) cannot be contracted by eating pork (or chicken) that is properly cooked; 3) CAN be contracted through contact with infected pigs (that offensive picture of the child licking a pig's snotty nose is an example); and 4) MAY return in the fall - in spades. Let us keep the wild rumors to a minimum, and keep track of this thing through the CDC Influenza pages: http://www.cdc.gov/flu/  It is certainly more authoritative than collective rumor-mongoring by people who don't know ribosomal DNA from nuclear DNA from RNA.

  10. rey says:

    Another stooge of the government.  BTW, if the swine flu isn't the aporkalypse, the porkulous bill is.

  11. Linda says:

    Thank you, Elizabeth Riggs.

  12. Jason says:

    On the origin of the virus from the CDC - "Novel influenza A (H1N1) is a new flu virus of swine origin"

    I'll be happy to call it H1N1 out of fairness to pork producers, but on the other hand, who wants to be fair to pork producers?

    And everyone should give a hand to E Riggs for keeping us all honest.  (not that the government is an undiluted source of truth...)

  13. Addie says:

    Look at http://www.fecesfarming.com

    Chicken shit is in farm-animal feed.  All sorts of things can go wrong from here.