Thursday, 07 May 2009

Sick Piggy and the like

I was looking at the Wikipedia article about the current Sick Piggy problem and saw a few interesting things

Source of the virus

Growing evidences are pointing to a US-owned industrial pig farm in the central Mexican state of Veracruz as a likely source of the virus. The virus is derived in part from a North American swine flu virus that originated on a farm in North Carolina in 1998, possibly due to the increase in the number of pigs per farm over the past 40 years from 50 to 1000. La Jornada, one of Mexico City's leading daily newspapers, reported in an article on April 6, the statements of municipal and national authorities, which traced the virus to a massive feces lagoon at a factory farm owned at 50% by Smithfield Foods, world’s largest pork producer.

That is disturbing.

Government actions against pigs and pork

Main article: 2009 swine flu outbreak action against pigs

Although there is no evidence that the virus is transmitted by food, and influenza A viruses are generally killed by heating, some countries banned import and sale of pork products "as a precaution against swine flu".

Several countries, including Serbia, China and Russia banned the import of pork products from North America in general as a response to the outbreak, despite assurances from the WHO that the disease is not spread through pork. On April 29, the Egyptian Government decided to kill all 300,000 pigs in Egypt, despite a lack of evidence that the pigs had, or were even suspected of having, the virus. This led to clashes between pig owners and the police in Cairo.

It smacks of a cleric taking advantage of the situation, don’t you think?

Prevention and treatment

Further information: Influenza: Prevention and Influenza treatment

Recommendations to prevent infection by the virus consist of the standard personal precautions against influenza. This includes frequent washing of hands with soap and water or with alcohol-based hand sanitizers, especially after being out in public. The CDC advises not touching the mouth, nose or eyes, as these are primary modes of transmission. When coughing, they recommend coughing into a tissue and disposing of the tissue, then immediately washing the hands.

Troubling thought in Korea, where adults find it OK to cough over a table with open food, never mind with other people at the table.

Airborne transmission

There is so far little data available on the risk of airborne transmission of this particular virus. Mexican authorities are distributing surgical masks to the general public. The UK Health Protection Agency considers facial masks unnecessary for the general public.[165] Many authorities recommend the use of respirators by health-care workers in the vicinity of pandemic flu patients, in particular during aerosol generating procedures (e.g. intubation, chest physiotherapy, bronchoscopy).


For a bit more general overview of the problem, have a look at this entry.

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