New flu strain impacts Iowa pork producers - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

New flu strain impacts Iowa pork producers

by John Wilmer

TAMA COUNTY (KWWL) - The number of confirmed H1N1 flu cases has jumped to 64 in five states and five people have been hospitalized. Researchers at the CDC have not been able to identify a factor that distinguishes this strain of flu from the seasonal flu, so people who have high fever and flu-like symptoms are urged to contact their doctor especially if they have a connection to Mexico.

Hog prices have been declining with news of the spreading flu, despite health officials stressing that it can not be contracted by eating pork.

John Weber, of rural Dysart, has been raising pigs his entire life. During that time he has seen scares like this before, but this epidemic of what's been referred to as "swine flu" couldn't come at a worse time.

"This is the kind of the last thing pork producers needed at this point in time, 2008 was a tough year for producers with high feed costs so for me in 2009 we've been dealing with a mediocre market at best. We've also been struggling with the rest of the economy," Weber said.

Weber also says there are several key things he looks for if he believes his herd is becoming ill. 

"We go through our barns twice a day. We monitor their water intake which is always a pretty easy way to tell something is going wrong in your building if water consumption drops off. Those are just little things along with the general observance of the pigs and the pig's health... You can tell if influenza and disease is coming into your herd," Weber said.

H1N1 influenza has not been found in U.S. pigs. According to the CDC the virus that people have been getting is very different from that found in pigs.

"The pork is safe. All the pork products are safe we can not pick up the swine flue from eating pork. I think that's a message we want to send today."

The CDC has determined this virus is contagious and spreading from humans to humans, however, they do not know how easily it is transmitted.

According to a professor of public health, this virus is being called swine flu because of the 1918 outbreak in Spain. That virus most likely had a wild bird origin but became known as swine flu because of large number of deaths in swine and the human population.


Online Reporter: John Wilmer

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