Swine flu looks like the latest in the long list of medical problems in India . With about 1700 deaths and 30,000 infections (source) , this looks like quite an epidemic out here . And with the amount of hue and cry to stop eating pork , people who love pork (me included) are left in a dilemma about what to eat and what not to.
Hence I decided to go through the Internet and gather facts about whether I should stop eating pork or can I continue with it . The following is based on my studies along with my references .
What is Swine Flu ?
Swine flu / influenza is a respiratory disease of pigs caused by type A influenza viruses that regularly cause outbreaks of this influenza in pigs. Swine flu virus can cause high levels of illness in swine herds, but usually cause few deaths. Currently there are four main influenza type A virus subtypes that have been isolated in pigs namely “H1N1” , “H1N2” , “H3N2” , and “H3N1” . Most of the recently isolated influenza viruses from pigs being H1N1 viruses.Swine flu viruses may circulate among swine throughout the year, but most outbreaks occur during the autumn and winter months similar to outbreaks of seasonal influenza in humans .
Swine Flu and Human
Swine flu viruses do not normally infect humans but sporadic human infections with flu viruses that normally infect pigs have occurred before and when this happens, these viruses are called “variant viruses” . Commonly , human infections with variant viruses have occurred in people exposed to infected pigs (e.g. children near pigs at a fair or workers in the swine industry).
The H1N1 swine flu viruses are anatomically very different from human H1N1 viruses and, therefore, vaccines for human seasonal flu would not provide protection from H1N1 swine flu viruses.
Symptoms of Swine Flu
The following are the most common symptoms of swine flu in humans
- sore throat
- running or stuffy nose
- body ache
Tests for swine flu
To diagnose swine influenza A infection, a specimen from the respiratory tract would generally need to be collected within the first four to five days of illness (when an infected person is most likely to shed the virus). However children may shed virus for 10 days or longer.
This testing can be done in almost all government hospitals at a very low-cost . The medicines are also available in the same place.
Who are at risk
Mostly those people who come in contact with pigs are at risk . But children and old people are also vulnerable due to their comparatively weak immune system . Others with a weak immune system like those with diabetes and AIDS patients and people on certain medications are also at risk.
The virus propagates mainly person-to-person transmission through coughing or sneezing of people infected with the influenza virus. Men may become infected by touching something with flu viruses on it and then touching their mouth or nose.
Can we continue eating pork
Seems like we can ! Even if the raw meat contains these viruses , they are killed during cooking . Hence a properly cooked pork dish cannot cause Swine flu in humans.
Having said that , I do suggest people to buy pork only after knowing or verifying that the meat comes from a proper and clean environment . And that proper hygiene is maintained throughout the supply chain. Also remember not to half-cook it , because swine flu or no swine flu , pork might always contain tap-worms .
So take proper precautions and keep enjoying your favorite food and do consult a doctor if you are not feeling well.
You waste life when you waste good food . ~ Katherine Anne Porter
Happy Eating !!!!