Well, it happened before I got down to writing on it. 'Swine Flu,' which is really not really the pure porcine variety, but a 'novel' type of Influenza A (H1N1) has been declared a pandemic by the World Health Organization. Americans are anticipating a huge immunization campaign in late September and traders are happily buying shares of all the companies promising to have masses of the vaccine ready by then. At least 3 companies are at the field trial stage with their vaccines. Meanwhile, there are some great scam vaccines being sold over the Internet.
Many schools are still shut down, people are nervous, and the number of illnesses keeps growing. From April 15, 2009 to July 24, 2009, a total of 43,771 confirmed and probable cases of infection were reported in 53 states, DC and Puerto Rico. Of these cases reported, 5,011 people were hospitalized and 302 people died. On July 24, 2009, the CDC gave up counting. According to one model it developed, which takes underreporting, lack of testing and other such factors into account, there have most likely been around a million cases of this flu in the U.S. between April and June.
I was one of them. No, it wasn't much fun. But frankly, not that bad either. I've had worse. And while it is reputed to be very contagious, my husband did not get it. Nor did my friends.
To the main issue: the question in many peoples’ minds has been whether one could get this unpleasant flu from eating pork or pork products. The answer is 'NO' - well, at least, not from pork.
The markets certainly have seemed to think so. Because there had been a number of cases of ‘swine flu’ in the U.S., and more were expected, U.S. hog prices and even the value of shares in meat companies fell as a result. Several countries banned U.S. pork and there was fear that more would join in.
The FDA ,the CDC and other government and private organizations with vested interests, have busily telling consumers - and reassuring our trading partners - that our pork is perfectly safe to eat. This flu virus is spread person-to-person like any other ‘flu virus, usually when an infected person sneezes or coughs or when the virus lands on a surface that you then touch and later touch your food, bite your fingernails or suck your thumb. Naturally, we don’t normally go around licking door knobs or stairway banisters, and hopefully, not sucking our thumb too often either. Although, certainly, this is a very 'fingernail-biting' time in our economy and many of us are taking up the habit every time we check our bank account or credit card statement.
But what about restaurants? The same situation applies, but of course, if a restaurant worker sneezes on your fresh tomato or lettuce – or, your fork - and you then put it in your mouth ….well…..Although the FDA and CDC are not admitting it, it is quite possible for people to catch swine flu from their food – but maybe from their salad instead of the pork chop.