Swine Flu in Swine: Flu Could Worsen; Industry at Risk

Publication: National Geographic News

Author: John Roach


10/14/2009 - The United States pork industry has already been battered by the false perception that pork can transmit swine flu. And now farmers are bracing for the first reported transmission of the virus to a U.S. pig, which at this point seems inevitable, experts say.

Beyond the economic impact, experts warn that, if transmitted to pigs, swine flu could quickly mutate into a more dangerous strain, given the crowded conditions at many industrial hog farms.

Officially called H1N1, the new swine flu virus is widely believed to have formed from other strains in pigs. It is already known to be present in pig herds in Canada, Argentina, and Australia. It has not yet been reported among pigs in the U.S.

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"Pigs are a really good petri dish for further mutation of flu viruses," said Robert Martin, a senior officer with the Pew Environment Group in Washington, D.C., who led a 2008 study on industrial animal operations.

Read the full article Swine Flu in Swine: Flu Could Worsen; Industry at Risk on National Geographic News' Web site. 

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