News — walterj 10:35 am


Walter & Pigs on Fox 44 News 

I got a call yesterday afternoon from reporter Ben Kennedy of Fox44 News in Colchester, VT wanting to interview a pig farmer about the “swine” flu.

I started to explain that it wasn’t really ’swine’ flu but he had done his homework and already knew that. In fact, that was the focus of his report. Mr. Kennedy wanted to discuss that the flu wasn’t about pigs and there was confusion from the name. He ask if our pork sales were being affected by the confusion of the name – they aren’t.

After we chatted on the phone he and his cameraman Matt drove all the way over to our farm and visited the pigs. That’s a long several hour drive for what ultimately becomes about a minute or so of air time. (videotext).

“Swine” flu was a misnomer and even the news media is beginning to use the correct term of A/H1N1 since this flu virus is really a combination of genetics including human, avian and swine which is being transmitted and spread by people, not pigs or birds. One confusion I’ve seen stated in some places was the mistaken idea that antibiotic abuse would cause the flu outbreak. This is false – antibiotics don’t do anything for viruses. The flu is a virus – a.k.a. influenza. Part of this confusion might come from the fact that when people do succumb to the flu antibiotics are used to save their lives, treating the secondary bacterial infections.

Of course, time well tell what the full scoop is. In a few weeks or months we’ll have a better idea. Hopefully, like the Bird Flu scare of a few years ago this A/H1N1 influenza will fizzle and turn out to be a dud. It is very sad that it has killed the people who have died to date, and those who may yet die. There is a lot to be said for prevention – It makes sense to take reasonable biosecurity precautions as we continue on with our lives. It is not completely harmless, as the deaths prove, and it is being transmitted person to person. Be careful but not paranoid. The hysteria can be worse than the disease as being demonstrated in Egypt where this flu is being used as an excuse for depopulation.

Speaking of depopulation, I wanted to pass along that a source at the Ag department told me yesterday that depopulation is not being discussed for swine in the United States. They had listened to the USDA Secretary Vilsack’s speech on this where he emphasized that this is not a pig issue thus we should not worry about depopulation.

A much bigger issue is the enormous centralization and distribution systems that spread disease – ah, you thought I meant factory farms, no as much as I dislike them, I’m talking about air travel and other shipping of everything all around the globe. The number one way to spread disease is modern distribution. We’re shipping people and objects too often and too far. This isn’t just a pollution and global warming issue. Along with everything shipped, from spinach to wooden pallets to people, tags along disease, alien plants and foreign animals, such as the long horn beetles that came from Asia on pallets and are attacking our trees. When people travel they can carry disease from location to location as has happened throughout history. Should we stop all travel? No, but perhaps it would be wise to travel less, to use online meeting resources more and keep in mind that all this travel does carry a real risk, not just pleasure. It is a luxury that should be used judiciously.