BROWN COUNTY - Despite initially being called "swine" flu by major media outlets, world and U.S. health organizations were quick to point out a more accurate name for the latest flu virus.
Earlier this week, the World Organization for Animal Health and the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported that virus transmission so far has been only human-to-human and none of the infected individuals had contact with hogs.
Minnesota Pork Producers Association Executive Director David Preisler said the international organization's renaming the virus H1N1 to "North American Influenza" was appropriate.
National and state health organizations and officials including the CDC and Minnesota Board of Animal Health reiterated that pork is safe to eat.
"There are absolutely no food safety issues related to the North American Influenza virus," Preisler said.
Calling the H1N1 virus "swine flu" was probably due to the 1918 flu outbreak in Spain which likely originated in wild birds but caused significant mortality in swine and humans, according to Peter Cowen, associate professor of epidemiology and public health at North Carolina State University.
Brown and Nicollet County University of Minnesota Extension Educator Wayne Schoper said there is no known transmission of flu to humans from swine or manure.
"Right now, we should keep our wits about us. This will pass over time," said Schoper.
"We have lots of hogs in Brown and Nicollet County. Around here, most people understand or at least have some understanding of agriculture and how it works," Schoper added. "But anytime there is lots of media hype about something, people hear little pieces of it which can cause misunderstanding."
Health care leaders including Nicollet and Blue Earth County Public Health, the Mankato Clinic, ISJ Regional Medical Center, Gold Cross Ambulance and the South Central Healthcare Systems Preparedness Program stated in a news release they are working collaboratively to coordinate strategic efforts in response to the outbreak of the H1N1 Novel Flu.
News of the first case of H1N1 Novel Flu in Minnesota is cause for planning and prevention, not panic, said Eric Weller, South Central Healthcare Systems Preparedness Program Administrator.
He urged patients who are feeling ill to call their health care provider ahead of time, if possible, before going to a clinic, urgent care or emergency room.
"We have had extensive plans to respond to an outbreak of infectious illness in place for several years," said Nita Aasen, M.A., Nicollet County Public Health Director.
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