What does the new strain of pig flu mean for the world farming community.
Will pig flue blow itself out or is this new strain of flu virus going to be the one which results in a pandemic?
I’m not one for scaremongering usually but I am worried about the speed this is travelling and what it will do to the world agriculture industry.
The World Health Organisation has increased the phase of pandemic alert to level 4, just one level below pandemic.
Phase 4 is sustained human to human transmission and it is now verified that pig flu can trasmit from human to human.
It certainly isn’t time to panic yet but it is spreading quickly and we need to watch it closely, hopefully it will just die out.
Although you can’t get swine flu from eating pork there is no doubt consumers will be scared by this latest crisis eminating from the farming industry.
“Pig flu” or “swine influenza” has killed 149 people in Mexico and infected 1614 others. There are also people infected in the USA, Canada and New Zealand, with suspected cases now in Spain, Chile, Britain and Israel.
Just 2 days after newspapers like the Sunday Mercury told us Midland farmers dismiss fears deadly Mexico ‘pig flu’ could hit UK, we now see 14 suspected cases in the UK.
The Centres for Disease Control and Prevention in the US now has 40 laboratory confirmed cases from 5 different states. They believe this strain of pig flu is a mixture of pig, bird and human virus.
To see how rapidly this flu virus is spreading we just have to compare yesterdays news reports of 86 dead in Mexico with the number reported today on the pig flu website, 149 now.
This isn’t the first time we have faced fears about pig flu, as this BBC news article headline from 1999 shows Pig flu sparks epidemic fears but one of these days one of these viruses will get out of control, as we have seen in the past.
The Daily Express reported that Professor Nigel Dimmock of Warwick University said the outbreak could kill 120 million people – two per cent of the world’s population – if it covered the globe.
That would be far worse than the impact of the Spanish flu pandemic that killed 50 million people in 1918 and which was a forerunner of the current flu strain, known as A/H1N1.
“It’s poised on a knife edge,” said Prof Dimmock. “It could burn itself out or it could get very nasty indeed – only time will tell.
“It’s a matter of how it spreads. It’s worrying because it appears to have infected a thousand or so people. But if it is a very good spreader it will travel around the world and we will all be in trouble.”
“So far it has killed two per cent of those infected. In the worst case scenario it could kill two per cent of the world’s population.”
Agricultural organisations around the world have already started putting out messages that you can’t get pig flu from eating pork but I’m going to predict a massive drop in pork sales if pig flu continues to spread.