PORK FREE FROM FLU
Jamaican pig farmers are fearful that people could unwittingly link the outbreak of H1N1 on the island to swines, and they feel could ruin the local industry.
Hanif Brown, president of the Jamaica Pig Farmers' Association, told THE WEEKEND STAR that so concerned are his members that the matter was discussed at a recent directors' meeting. He said a communication strategy was also crafted.
"We were getting the feedback that people, especially those who are not in the know, when they hear swine flu, they would want to make comment like they would not want to eat pork although it has nothing to do with pork," Brown said.
Brown said that pig farmers have not reported any dip in demand for pork, but stressed that public information is needed to ensure the industry does not suffer any major fallout.
Delroy Manya, a spokesman for the pig growers, was also concerned about the public's possible misunderstanding of the virus, but stressed that pork is completely safe to eat.
Six persons have died from H1N1 and dozens of persons have been confirmed as having contracted the virus. Swine flu is the common name for the H1N1 virus. It was given this name because it is similar to a form of the virus seen in pigs.
However, Dr Osbil Watson, chief veterinarian at the Veterinary Services Division, said the virus sweeping across the island now is not the same as swine flu.
"I think it's a misrepresentation. It's not right to use the term swine flu because it is not swine flu. It is Influenza A H1N1 or properly known as Pandemic Influenza A H1N1 2009. That is what it is," Watson said.