"Back Where Virus Started, New Scrutiny of Pig Farming"

"Despite the buttoned-up methods of farmers such as [Devon] Schott, many experts think pig farming presents a serious and overlooked risk to public health. Proof of that assertion -- indirect but indisputable, in the opinion of virologists -- is the 2009 H1N1 pandemic influenza.

Little is known about the origin of the novel H1N1. But one thing is virtually certain: The bug now infecting the people of more than 190 countries began in a pig.

Detecting such cross-species transfers quickly -- or, better yet, preventing them -- is an urgent priority in a field that has spent most of its energy in recent years worrying about the emergence of flu from birds in Asia. A major concern now is what might happen if the pandemic H1N1 virus spreads widely in pigs, and then out again into the human population."

David Brown reports for the Washington Post October 25, 2009.

Monday, October 26, 2009