CDC says swine flu doesn't come from eating pork

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By Greg Summers

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued a statement Monday that there is no evidence you can get swine flu virus (H1N1) by eating pork.

“Swine influenza viruses are not transmitted by food,” the statement said. “You cannot get swine influenza from eating pork or pork products. Eating properly handled and cooked pork and pork products is safe. Cooking pork to an internal temperature of 160 degrees kills the swine flu virus, as it does other bacteria and viruses.”

That’s the key, said Ann Boss, owner of the Meat Center in Lancaster.

“We’ve had some customers asking questions, but we haven’t seen our pork business slip one bit,” Boss said. “Our USDA inspector is also the regional supervisor and he was in here Monday and told us to remind customers you can’t get it from eating pork. We have access to some pretty good information.” 

According to the CDC, the spread of swine flu only occurs in two ways:

u Through contact with a person with swine flu – Human-to-human spread of swine flu has been documented also and is thought to occur in the same way as seasonal flu. Influenza is thought to spread mainly person-to-person through the coughing or sneezing of infected people.

u Through contact with infected animals (pigs, birds) or environments contaminated with swine flu viruses. So far, there is no documentation of  direct exposure to people.

The S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control said Monday that lab results released Saturday showed that 16 South Carolinians definitely have the swine flu virus.

The 16 people who have the virus are all associated in some way with a recent school trip by students at Newberry Academy to Mexico.

The school was closed for a week, but reopened Tuesday.

Schools routinely close whenever there is a cluster of illness, said Dr. Jerry Gibson, of DHEC’s Bureau of Disease Control.

Gibson said the 13 students and three chaperones were asked to voluntarily isolate themselves for a short time. Anyone who was exposed to them is asked to voluntarily quarantine themselves at home. Those in isolation will receive appropriate care, Gibson said.

“There’s still a lot we do not know about the swine flu virus,” Gibson said. “ But we’re in constant contact with the CDC and health-care providers around the state. We are closely monitoring doctors, hospitals and other health-care providers to identify and track any cases that might arise.”

Gibson said several types of antiviral drugs seem to work for swine flu when taken shortly after symptoms begin.

“In South Carolina, we have 435,000 of these treatment courses – 10 pills per course – on hand,” he said. “The drugs are called Tamiflu and Relenza. The federal government stockpiles these drugs for emergencies and has reserved an additional 640,000 treatment courses for our state. Federal officials will send about 140,000 of those courses soon.”

Preventing  the spread of swine flu

– Wash your hands thoroughly and often.

– Cover your cough with your sleeve, not your hand.

– Stay home if you’re sick.

– Stay away from people who are sick.

– Eat a healthy diet and get plenty of rest.

– It takes from 48-72 hours for symptoms to show up after a person has come in contact with the virus.

“There’s no way to know how long the outbreak will last, but we expect this virus to be around for quite some time,” Gibson said.