Swine Flu | The Pigs Are Deadly
Can You Can Swine Flu From Eating Pork Or Bacon?
No. Swine Flu is not transmitted in the flesh of a pig, in the same way that Bird Flu is not transmitted in the flesh of an infected chicken. Swine flu is caught as a result of contact with pigs. Keeping oneself and ones children away from pigs is the surest way of avoiding swine flu.
Back in 2005 we were all terrified of Bird Flu, however Swine Flu has become a major concern in California, USA where several new cases of the disease have been reported. Interestingly, or perhaps terrifyingly, depending on your take, Swine Flu (H1N1) is actually a variation of Bird Flu (H5N1).
Viruses undergo regular mutations, adapting to survive in various conditions and sometimes merging with other viruses, a process which can create super viruses more potent and deadly than its progenitors.
The fear attached to H5N1 (Bird Flu) is that it would somehow mutate into strains which were transmissible to humans on a wide scale. Pigs are capable of carrying human viruses and bird viruses, which opens the door to the very real possibility that strains could blend and mutate into a super avian flu virus capable of spreading violently through human populations.
Avian influenza virus H3N2 is endemic in pigs in China and has been detected in pigs in Vietnam, increasing fears of the emergence of new variant strains. Health experts say pigs can carry human influenza viruses, which can combine (i.e. exchange homologous genome sub-units by genetic reassortment) with H5N1, passing genes and mutating into a form which can pass easily among humans.
Swine Flu Epidemic
Aside from fears of more potent avian flu viruses, Swine Flu presents a clear and present danger in its current form. In 1918 there was a Swine Flu epidemic which broke out in the US, UK and Germany when a strain mutated into a powerful form.
It was a deadly killer with an 80% mortality rate, and casualties were estimated as being anywhere up to 50 million.
Other outbreaks have occurred on less serious levels every 30 to 50 years.
The California 'Outbreak'
Two children were diagnosed in April 2009 as having a variant of Swine Flu. It is not clear whether their infections are a limited incident, or whether this could be a beginning of yet another swine flu outbreak. A total of four patients had been diagnosed as of the 24th of April, and all patients made a full recovery, strongly indicating that this most recent strain of human transmissible swine influenza is nowhere near as deadly as the 1918 strain.
The Mexican Outbreak
The effects of swine flu have been felt severely in Mexico, where over 80 people have died as at the 25th of April, 2009. Over 11,000 people have been infected, and hospitals are full to overflowing.
New Zealand Swine Flu
Swine flu touched the shores of New Zealand in late April, transmitted by an Auckland school group returning from Mexico.