Latest Misnomer May Prove Limited Economically

US - "Misnaming the H1N1 virus 'swine flu' will cause a significant amount of monetary damage, not only to the hog industry but to related industries such as hog packing and trucking," said Ron Plain, livestock economist with the University of Missouri Extension Commercial Agriculture Program.
calendar icon 7 May 2009
clock icon 3 minute read

Professor Plain is hopeful that the worst is over, despite the discovery of infected swine in Canada. Canadian health officials suspect that the pigs contracted the virus from a farmer who had recently returned from Mexico.

Professor Plain said he is cautiously optimistic for two reasons. "Number one, the death rate for this influenza strain appears to be lower than that of normal seasonal flu."

Secondly, more organizations have stopped calling it the "swine flu," he said. "Efforts by the World Health Organization, the World Organization for Animal Health and the USDA to call the disease by its correct viral name have already had a promising impact on lessening the economic damage."

Professor Plain believes that Egypt's overreaction of slaughtering all hogs in the country was "the straw that broke the camel's back" for WHO and like organizations. He believes Egypt's extreme policy led the global health organizations to promote the proper identification of the H1N1 virus.

Professor Plain does not believe that feed prices will be affected. "Whether or not the hogs are being sold, producers won't stop feeding them. If the number of hogs remains constant, so will the amount of grain they will need."

The United States exports 20 per cent of its pork. Some of the leading importers of US pork products, such as Russia and China, have placed restrictions on imports from North America.

US government officials have stated that restrictions on US pork and pork products are not based on scientific evidence and may unnecessarily result in serious trade disruptions.

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