Is Swine Flu a Pig/Bird Hybrid?!

Posted by on May 11th, 2009

Image Credit: Visual Culture and BioScience

Penn Bullock reports:

In March 2008, a veterinarian identified a mysterious pig pathogen at two “swine production facilities” (the official euphemism for slaughterhouses) in Illinois. It contained “genes of both swine and avian influenza viruses.”

A government inspector from the USDA-ARS Virus and Prion Diseases of Livestock Research Unit (say that three times) wrote up the discovery in an esoteric trade journal, “Agricultural Research.” The report resurfaced inanely on a news aggregator, It noted the nebulousness of the bird-swine flu and warned that it had the potential for a deadly pandemic. What it lacked was transmissibility to and between humans.

Exactly a year later, the so-called swine flu emerged at an unidentified pig farm in North America. Swine flu is a misnomer for this mongrel virus. According to the CDC, it’s actually a combo of swine, bird and human flues from Asia and North America.

The world’s leading epidemiologists are puzzling over the origin of the new bird-swine-human flu sweeping the world. For clues, they should refer back to that ominous case of bird-swine flu in Illinois. According to the government inspector, pigs awaiting slaughter were being piped contaminated water from nearby ponds – where migrating birds congregated. Some of the waterfowl had bird flu and, to put it impolitely, shat the virus into the water supply. A pig with swine flu drank the adulterated water. That unlucky pig became a laboratory in which the bird and swine flues merged genetically. That was in 2008. Did the 2009 swine flu virus come about in the same manner, through the same agricultural process?

The current 2009 swine flu and the obscure 2008 strain are not identical. The former is part of the H1 subtype of influenza, the latter the H2 subtype. Nevertheless, the 2008 outbreak is worth a long second look.

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