Jul 21, 2009 | 3
Pigs are plummeting in popularity, and there’s more to blame than just the H1N1 virus. Swine’s smell alone is irking many people.
For Ed and Ruth McEowen, who live across the road from six barns filled with 7,500 hogs and their excrement, a gaseous smell was enough to fuel a nuisance lawsuit against the barns’ owner and hog supplier. Last week, the couple walked out of court with a $1.1-million settlement, reported the Kansas City Star.
“Night was always the worst,” Ed McEowen told the Star. “It’s like the monsters come out at night. The sickening stench just lays down here in the valley once the sun goes down. You could never invite anybody over because you never knew how bad the stench was going to be.”
May 8, 2009 | 11
School closures, canceled proms, and emergency rooms flooded with people panicking over run-of-the-mill coughs and sore throats. Have people gone hog wild over the so-called "swine flu," and is the media to blame for fanning the flames of fear?
The media hype, in particular, has drawn heavy criticism from the Los Angeles Times's James Rainey, who recently highlighted headlines like "Bracing for the Worst" (CNN) and other examples of fear mongering. Others, such as the reporters and editors quoted in this piece by Editor & Publisher, say it has been appropriate and measured.
May 4, 2009 | 7
Last Friday, we reported on Egypt's recent attempt to curb transmission of the human H1N1 epidemic by butchering all 300,000 of its pigs. Experts we interviewed said there was no sound rationale for such a move, because pigs had never been infected with the new virus, which has sickened at least 1085 people in 21 countries – until now.
The Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) recently announced that a herd of pigs in Alberta might have caught the new virus from a Canadian who had recently spent time in Mexico, ground zero for the current epidemic. Fortunately, both man and pigs have recovered or are in the process getting better, but the incident raises a new question: do pigs now pose a threat to humans?
May 1, 2009 | 7
As swine flu fears sweep the world, governments everywhere are taking steps to prepare for a global pandemic, such as ramping up disease surveillance, reinforcing medicine stockpiles, and distributing infection control information to citizens. Egypt, however, with no confirmed cases of swine flu within its borders, added another step: Killing all 300,000 of its pigs.
"It has been decided to immediately start slaughtering all the pigs in Egypt using the full capacity of the country's slaughterhouses," Health Minister Hatem el-Gabaly said earlier this week, according to The Independent. The idea is to prevent the animals from passing the disease to humans.
Apr 27, 2009
The World Health Organization (WHO) has raised the influenza pandemic alert level to phase 4, just two steps shy of a global pandemic alert, according to Keiji Fukuda, the WHO's assistant director-general for health security and environment. And while the WHO does not recommend countries close borders or restrict travel, they are moving forward with plans to produce a swine flu vaccine as soon as possible, he told reporters in a teleconference this evening.
According to the WHO Web site, a phase 4 alert describes a viral outbreak in which human-to-human transmission is efficient and sustained enough to cause community-level outbreaks. Level 3 describes a situation in which human-to-human transmission is limited and disease cases are sporadic and occur in small clusters. (Phase 6 designates a global pandemic.) According to the WHO, there are at least 73 confirmed cases of human swine flu -- 40 in the U.S., 26 in Mexico (including seven deaths), six in Canada, and one in Spain. But Mexico has over 1000 suspected cases, according to Time Magazine, and 149 suspected deaths, according to Reuters.
Apr 27, 2009 | 1
Mexico, which is already swept in panic over an outbreak of swine flu, the virus suspected of killing over 100 people and sickening more than 1,000 in the country, has now become the epicenter of another disaster: an earthquake.
At 12:46 P.M. Eastern Daylight Time, a magnitude 5.6 tremor struck Mexico's southern state of Guerrero, a popular tourist region that includes the cities of Acapulco, Taxco and Chilpancingo. The temblor's epicenter was 155 miles (250 kilometers) south of Mexico City, according to Julie Dutton, a spokesperson for the U.S. Geological Survey. So far there are no reports of deaths from the quake, Alfredo González of Mexico City's Protección Civil told Reuters América Latina.
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