5 Myths About Swine Flu


You Can Catch It from Eating Pork

Some myths have murky beginnings, while others are of a more obvious origin. So it is with the belief that you can catch swine flu by eating contaminated pork. In the absence of any other information, it's a perfectly reasonable strategy to adopt.

Consider it a piece of bad luck for the pork industry that, when first studied, scientists discovered proteins in the flu virus that were also found in a flu virus commonly spread between pigs. Continued research would discover the virus also had a protein found in bird flu, as well as human flu. But right out of the gate, the new virus was identified as "swine flu." It didn't help that the virus was discovered in a rural part of Mexico, near a pig-fattening facility. (For the record, pig farmers have known about swine flu for years, and inoculate their pigs to prevent them from catching it.)

As soon as the new virus was called "swine flu," the pork industry took a hit. Pork prices fell, as well as prices for grain and other sources of pig feed. Egyptian authorities ordered a massive culling of pigs, causing an uproar among Egyptian pig farmers.

Swine flu isn't spread through the eating of pork, unless a human who has swine flu has sneezed on your ham sandwich. And even if it could be spread by eating pork, the influenza doesn't survive contact with cooking temperatures (160 degrees Fahrenheit, or 71 degrees Celsius).

Name aside, swine flu passes from one person to another, just like normal flu.