The swine flu problem isn’t in the pigs

As easy as it may be to assume, there’s no evidence that the swine flu spreading through Mexico and beyond is sickening pigs now.

The World Health Organization reports that illnesses in Mexico are climbing close to 1,000 with more than 50 deaths—all of which are human. Eighteen of those cases were laboratory confirmed by labs in Canada.

Though, as a precaution, the Canadian Food Inspection Agency is “asking swine producers, veterinarians and labs to increase their vigilance in monitoring for and reporting swine disease.”

Is that a better use of resources than increasing monitoring activities of flu-like symptoms in humans?

The Public Health Agency of Canada website says of human swine influenza, “Sporadic human infections with swine flu have occurred, however these are usually caused by direct exposure to pigs,” and, “Human to human transmission of swine influenza has been documented.”

Are Canadians getting the whole story? Is this the best way to protect public health?

In the US, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have identified 20 human cases of swine flu in several states, and an investigation website outlines what is known about the virus to this point (it’s susceptible to certain antiviral drugs) and the steps being taken to find out more.

This information gives the public a better picture of the possible risks to their health and how those risks are being managed.

The interested public can generally handle more, not less, information about food safety.