Why Is It Called Swine Flu?

Author: Gabrielle Marks
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Swine flu is a common term used for the H1N1 virus because it is a respiratory infection that originates in pigs.

More Info: The influenza infection is usually caused by direct contact from an infected pig to a human and vice versa.  Infection is spread through droplets such as those spread through coughing and sneezing.

Can You Get the Flu from Eating Pork?

You cannot catch influenza from consuming or handling pork.   This doesn't mean you should be lax in your cooking and preparation methods when it comes to pork.  Like any raw meat, pork can contain parasites or harmful bacteria that can make humans sick.

Common Pork Parasites

Though you cannot contract the swine flu from consuming pork, there are other parasites and bacterial that you can contract by incorrectly handling or consuming undercooked pork.  To safely cook pork its internal temperature should reach 160 degrees Fahrenheit and you should always wash your hands after handling raw meat.

Toxoplasma gondii: Humans can contract toxoplasmosis from this parasite by consuming undercooked meats such as pork.  Many people who contract it have no symptoms; others may experience flu-like symptoms.  For those at risk such as newborns, transplant recipients, and those with HIV, severe toxoplasmosis can occur resulting in damage to the eyes and brain. 

Toxoplasmosis is the third leading cause of death from foodborne illnesses.

Trichinella spiralis: Is an intestinal roundworm that is contracted by consuming undercooked meats such as pork.  Symptoms of trichinosis include vomiting, diarrhea, and abdominal pain one to two days after consumption.  More severe symptoms may exhibit two to eight weeks later including eye swelling and aching muscles and joints.

Taenia solium: Is a pork tapeworm that causes Taeniasis. Most infections do not cause immediate symptoms and can go years without being detected.  The eggs of the pork tapeworm are the cause for concern.  The eggs can be passed from humans and to oneself in fecal matter. The eggs can then enter the body and hatch forming cysts called cysticerci. These can be fatal if it involves the nervous system or heart.


Works Cited

Search Flu Frequent Questions
Flu FAQ: Can people catch H1N1 (swine) flu from eating or preparing pork

USDA Food Safety and Inspection Service
Parasites and Foodborne Illness

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"Why Is It Called Swine Flu?." Sophisticated Edge. N.p., n.d. Web. . <http://www.sophisticatededge.com/why-is-it-called-swine-flu.html>.  

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