Friday, June 12, 2009

Wrong victim line...

The following e-mail tripped my trigger (It was sent to AgDay, but I get copied.)
When you quit calling it Swine flu and start saying N1H1 [sic*] flu everytime you open your mouth,most of the farmers and ranchers might take you serious.
I have seen several other outraged comments from pork producers aimed at media types who dare to use the ubiquitous nomenclature of "swine flu".  Allow me to make a few clarifying points here.

First, while I do not profess to "feel your pain", I am aware that the pork industry in under incredible economic strain, and that even large operations will fail because of cost and demand issues. That this stress can bleed over to other issues is understandable.

Second, the post above illustrates the problem with the H1N1 term.  It is not easily remembered.

Third, the term "H1N1 virus" is six syllables and can be garbled several ways.  "Swine flu" is two syllables and rolls off the tongue.  This means nothing to hog farmers, but a great deal to those who speak the news. If you can't grasp our working problems, don't be surprised when we don't empathize with yours.

Fourth, as I just pointed out, "H1N1" is probably already dated.

Fifth, if the term "swine flu" is such an outrage to pork producers, why have they waited until the thunderstorm to fix the roof?  The label "swine flu" has been around for decades. 
On February 5, 1976, in the United States an army recruit at Fort Dix said he felt tired and weak. He died the next day and four of his fellow soldiers were later hospitalized. Two weeks after his death, health officials announced that the cause of death was a new strain of swine flu. The strain, a variant of H1N1, is known as A/New Jersey/1976 (H1N1). It was detected only from January 19 to February 9 and did not spread beyond Fort Dix.[29]
This new strain appeared to be closely related to the strain involved in the 1918 flu pandemic. Moreover, the ensuing increased surveillance uncovered another strain in circulation in the U.S.: A/Victoria/75 (H3N2) spread simultaneously, also caused illness, and persisted until March.[29]pandemic, and urged President Gerald Ford that every person in the U.S. be vaccinated for the disease.[30] Alarmed public-health officials decided action must be taken to head off another major
The vaccination program was plagued by delays and public relations problems.[31] On October 1, 1976, the immunization program began and by October 11, approximately 40 million people, or about 24% of the population, had received swine flu immunizations. That same day, three senior citizens died soon after receiving their swine flu shots and there was a media outcry linking the deaths to the immunizations, despite the lack of positive proof. According to science writer Patrick Di Justo, however, by the time the truth was known — that the deaths were not proven to be related to the vaccine — it was too late. "The government had long feared mass panic about swine flu — now they feared mass panic about the swine flu vaccinations." This became a strong setback to the program.[32]

Has the NPPC been working with the scientific community before this present debacle to adopt a more accurate name?

Finally, while I have earned the criticism of ethanol fanatics for my contention we have literally legislated our best customers out of business, on this issue I cannot side with pork producers.  You are not victims here, you are short-sighted business managers.

It's too late - it's swine flu.

Deal with it.

*Not to be condescending, because I learned what it means only a few years ago: [sic] means as in the original


Anonymous said...

Your comments sound like the right way to look at this swine flu situation.


Anonymous said...

I agree with your take on the hog industry comments, but I think the media is most to blame.

Perhaps it is my ignorance, but I think the media has blown this way out of proportion. The CDC (center for disease control and provention) has estimated influenza A (our regular seasonal flu) to have caused 36,171 deaths per year in the US during the 90's based on 9 years. These numbers would have been higher had it not been for millions of flu shots. To date, the H1N1/swine flu has been attributed as the cause of 181 deaths. The total number of cases is somewhere around that 36k mark, globally.

Do we hear the poultry producers "chirping" about the term "chicken pox"? No, because we know there is no association between consumption and infection and because every case does not make headline news. Let's stop talking about this.