Senator Chuck Grassley says he had a pork chop for dinner last night and encourages everyone to "dig in" to pork products, one of Iowa’s top exports, as there’s no risk of getting the swine flu from eating pork. Congressional hearings are opening today on the growing global caseload of the disease and so far, Grassley says it appears federal agencies are "on top of" the situation.
"There is vaccine available for pigs that get it but not for humans," Grassley says. "Precaution is a very important thing right now, all of the necessary sanitary things you need to do with sneezing, with washing your hands, staying away from people. If you get sick, stay home for a couple of days."
At least 150 people have died in Mexico and the virus is confirmed to have made people sick in several countries overseas, including Israel, Spain, Scotland and New Zealand. Here in the U.S., there are about 50 confirmed cases, including some in Kansas, but none in Iowa and none of the cases outside of Mexico have proven fatal.
"We’re in a position to handle it well because of education and caution," Grassley says. "There’s no absolute certainty and it’s a good thing the government is staying very flexible and very much on top of it." He says the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention appears to be doing all it can to keep the swine flu under control and to keep people from panicking.
Grassley says, "I’m telling you, when you’re only four days away from something like this being made public, and particularly in another country, it’s a little early for anybody who’s not a medical person or a scientific person, and I’m neither, for me to make a judgment whether or not it’s being handled right."
The World Health Organization is saying it’s no longer possible to contain the virus and has raised its alert level to "four," which is two steps below pandemic stage.