Consumers are again being reassured about the safety of pork products after the news a pig in Minnesota has tested positive for H-1-N-1 flu. Veterinarian Jennifer Greiner is director of science and technology at the Des Moines-based National Pork Producers Council. Dr. Greiner says pigs are among a host of animals that can get the flu but she says there’s one very important thing to remember.
“This is a respiratory virus in pigs,” Greiner says. “It acts like any other influenza would act in a pig and it doesn’t get into the meat so pork is safe.” Greiner says pigs have been susceptible to the flu for decades. “Pigs have gotten influenza since the early 1900s,” Greiner says.
“Yes, it takes on different shapes and forms over the years but we have been dealing with influenza viruses for many years.” Greiner says it is possible the Minnesota pig in question was infected with the flu by another pig, however, “The more likely route of transmission is for the human to give the pigs the virus,” she says. “This Novel H-1-N-1 is adapted to humans.”
Greiner says the flu can spread within a herd. “They do see that it does move from pig to pig but it causes a very mild flu in pigs,” she says. Greiner stresses that many animals are susceptible to the flu so it isn’t earth-shattering news that pigs can get it as well. The infected pig is one used for show and was not in a commercial herd. Iowa is the nation’s number-one hog producer.