Swine Flu

Swine CAFOs & Novel H1N1 Flu: Separating Facts From Fears

With cases documented in more than 170 countries, the global swine flu pandemic that erupted in spring 2009 remains a serious public health problem. Caused by a strain of H1N1 influenza virus, which is normally found in pigs, the flu now known as novel H1N1 has so far been less severe than regular seasonal flu in terms of deaths and hospitalizations. Yet given its remarkable capacity for human-to-human transmission and a widespread lack of immunity among potentially exposed people, it’s likely the number of cases will rise during the flu season later this fall and winter, according to many public health experts. Given that possibility, enormous resources are being mobilized to address novel H1N1, with an emphasis on vaccine development, education, and efforts to its limit its movements among human communities.

Yet one potential source of the original outbreak-swine farming in concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFOs)-has received comparatively little attention by public health officials. CAFOs house animals by the thousands in crowded indoor facilities. But the same economy-of-scale efficiencies that allow CAFOs to produce affordable meat for so many consumers also facilitate the mutation of viral pathogens into novel strains that can be passed on to farm workers and veterinarians, according to Gregory Gray, director of the Center for Emerging Infectious Diseases at the University of Iowa College of Public Health.

Read  more here: Swine CAFOs & Novel H1N1 Flu

Tips from Johns Hopkins University and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Here are tips from the Johns Hopkins University and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on taking care of yourself and keeping others healthy when you have the flu.

  • Know the signs and symptoms of flu. Symptoms of flu can include fever or chills and cough or sore throat. In addition, symptoms can include runny nose, body aches, headache, fatigue, diarrhea or vomiting.
  • If you are a student who becomes ill with flu-like symptoms, call or go to the student health center serving your school or campus. If you are a student not eligible to be seen at a student health center or if you are an employee, call or go to your physician or an appropriate medical facility in your community. Follow your doctor’s or nurse’s instructions.
  • If you are a student whose family lives nearby, go home and recover there.
  • Stay home – or in your residence hall room, apartment or place of residence – at all times unless you need to go out to seek medical care. Staying away from others while you are sick can keep them from getting sick too. If you are a student, ask a roommate or friend to check up on you and to bring you food, medications and supplies if needed.
  • Stay in a separate room and avoid contact with others. If someone is caring for you, wear a mask, if one is available and tolerable, when that person is in the room.
  • If practicable in your living situation, designate one bathroom for those who are ill and another for those who are well. Wash down bathroom surfaces, door knobs and other surfaces where virus might accumulate.
  • Remain at home until you are well. Specifically, do not return to class or to work and do not resume normal activities for at least 24 hours after you no longer have symptoms, particularly a fever (100 degrees Fahrenheit or 38 degrees Celsius) or signs of a fever (chills, a warm feel to the touch, a flushed appearance, or sweating). The 24-hour symptom-free period should be measured without the use of fever-reducing medications (any medicine that contains ibuprofen or acetaminophen).
  • Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when coughing or sneezing. Immediately dispose of the tissue in the trash. If you do not have a tissue, use your arm rather than your hand to cover your cough or sneeze.
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water, especially after coughing or sneezing. Alcohol-based hand cleaners are also effective if soap and water are not available.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, or mouth. Germs spread this way.
  • Drink plenty of clear fluids (such as water, broth, sports drinks, and electrolyte beverages for infants) to keep from becoming dehydrated.
  • People at higher risk for flu complications should be particularly sure to seek medical care if they become ill with flu-like symptoms. These include children under age 5, pregnant women, people of any age who have chronic medical conditions (such as asthma, diabetes, or heart disease), and people age 65 years and older.
  • Go for medical care right away if you are having difficulty breathing or are getting worse.

 Recent News Articles:

 The Great Swine Flu Cover-Up (Laura Carlsen, ALAI, September 25, 2009)

Using the Web to Diagnose Swine Flu (Rob Stein, The Washington Post, October 7, 2009)

Health secretary tries easing flu vaccine fears (Tabassum Zakaria, Reuters, October 7, 2009)

Cerner teams up with government to track swine flu (David Twiddy, Forbes, October 6, 2009)

Sebelius: Americans must get swine flu vaccination (The Associated Press, October 7, 2009)

 Pigs possibly linked to H1N1 flu cases in B.C. (Alex Roslin, Straight.com, July 16, 2009)

New Virus, Old Tale: Animals Share Bugs With Us (Joe Achenbach, Washington Post, May 7, 2009)

Swine Flu Genes From Pigs Only, Not Humans or Birds (Brandon Keim, Wired Science)

Virus’s Tangled Genes Straddle Continents, Raising a Mystery About Its Origins (Donald G. McNeil Jr., New York Times)

Scientists See This Flu Strain as Relatively Mild (Karen Kaplan and Alan Zarembo, Los Angeles Times, April 30, 2009)

Mexico’s Mystery: Why Is Swine Flu Deadlier There? (Bryan Walsh, TIME)

W.H.O. Issues Higher Alert on Swine Flu, With Advice (Donald McNeil Jr., New York Times)

Obama Seeks to Ease Fears on Swine Flu (Robert Pear and Gardiner Harris, New York Times)

Health Agencies Warily Monitor Swine Flu Strain (Donald McNeil, New York Times)

E.U. Warns Against Travel to Parts of U.S. and Mexico (Rob Stein and David Brown, Washington Post)

Swine Flu’s Next Move Impossible to Predict (Karen Kaplan, Los Angeles Times)

Obama: Swine flu cause of concern (Carrie Budoff Brown, Politico)

Swine Flu and Factory Farms: Fast Track to Disaster (Michael Greger, M.D., Factory Farming Campaign)

Recent Blog Coverage:

Are Factory Farms to Blame for Swine Flu? (Pablo Paster, Treehugger)

Reuters Mangles Flu Story and Blasts “Wild Theories” About “Evil Factory Farms” (David Kirby, Huffington Post)

CDC: swine flu strain has genetic roots in U.S.A. (Tom Philpott, Grist)

Symptom: swine flu. Diagnosis: industrial agriculture? (Tom Philpott, Grist)

Swine Industry to Media: Don’t Call It Swine Flu (Jill Richardson, La Vida Locavore)

Swine Flu: Trying to Think Correctly (Dr. Jon LaPook, Huffington Post)

Thinking the Unthinkable: Six (Uncomfortable) Questions about the Swine Flu Outbreak (Ben Sherwood, Huffington Post)

Swine Flu Outbreak — Nature Biting Back at Industrial Animal Production? (David Kirby, Huffington Post)

Mexican Lawmaker: Factory Farms Are “Breeding Grounds” of Swine Flu Pandemic (David Kirby, Huffington Post)

Let’s Ask Marion Nestle: Who Needs Bioterrorism When We’ve Got Manure Lagoons? (Kerry Trueman, Huffington Post)

Swine-flu Outbreak Linked to Smithfield Factory Farms (Tom Philpott, Grist)

Swine Flu: What the Science Tells Us (Aaron French, Civil Eats)


The Potential Role of Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations in Infectious Disease Epidemics and Antibiotic Resistance Research (Environmental Health Perspectives, February 2007)

Swine Workers and Swine Influenza Virus Infections (CDC December 2007)

Genetic evidence of intercontinental movement of avian influenza in a migratory bird: the northern pintail (Anas acuta) (Molecular Ecology, October 2008)

Government Resources:

CDC: Influenza (Flu) | Swine Influenza (Flu)

@CDCemergency – Follow CDC’s updates on Twitter

World Health Organization

U.S. Geological Survey: Surveillance for Asian H5N1 Avian Influenza in the United States

One-stop access to U.S. Government swine, avian and pandemic flu information

Johns Hopkins Resources:

Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health Swine Influenza Information

Agriculture and Public Health Gateway

Pandemic Influenza (Flu) Guide for Individuals and Families

Pew Public Health Overview and Recommendations

Johns Hopkins Office of Critical Events Preparedness & Response

Other Resources:

Swine Flu Coverage from ScienceInsider

H1N1 Swine Flu Google Map

Tracking the Swine Flu Outbreak (Wall Street Journal Health Blog)

HealthMap Swine Flu Tracking Service (Children’s Hospital Boston)