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WPA Agrees That 'Swine Flu' Should be Renamed 'North American Flu'
Wisconsin Ag Connection - 04/30/2009

The Wisconsin Pork Association says it is totally behind an effort by the World Organization for Animal Health to urge the media to stop calling the current influenza outbreak 'Swine Flu,' and instead refer to it as the 'North American Flu' due to its origin; and because the virus is actually made up from swine, bird and human elements.

"Given public concern raised by reports of the newly identified hybrid influenza in humans, and the fact that the virus is being referred to as 'swine flu,' the Wisconsin Pork Association wishes to reassure the public that pork is safe and will continue to be safe to consume," the statewide check-off program said on Wednesday.

WPA Director Tammy Vaassen says her group is reminding consumers that people cannot get the hybrid influenza from eating pork or pork products.

"Most influenza viruses, including this one, are not spread by food," Vaassen said. "Eating properly handled and cooked pork products is safe. There are no food safety issues related to the hybrid flu that have been identified."

Meanwhile, preliminary investigations have determined that none of the people infected so far with the hybrid flu had contact with hogs.

Vaassen also points out that a report issued by the Center for Disease Control states "this virus is different, very different from that found in pigs. At this time there is no evidence that this swine influenza subtype is present in pigs in the United States or anywhere in the world's pig population."

Because the disease is novel, the Wisconsin Pork Association is urging producers to put added focus on biosecurity, especially to minimize possible human-to-animal transmission of the hybrid influenza virus type H1N1 into their pork production operations.

Wisconsin pork producers market nearly 1 million pigs annually from over 700 operations across the state.

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