Hormel – Epidemiologists at the CDC in Atlanta have confirmed three more cases of human flu in Hormel’s swine population and are warning farmers to take further action or risk a widescale pandemic. Already in Hormel many have placed masks on their pigs or added Tamiflu to their slop, but for some herds the response may be too late.
Joe Burst, who owns a pig farm just south of the Nafta Superhighway, says he’s lost ten hogs in a week. “We gets downer pigs like anyone else and it ain’t usually no big deal. Fact, we saves money ‘cause we can ship ‘em out without zappin’ ‘em first. But this here’s a diff’ernt story. These pigs is dyin’ faster ‘n we can get ‘em to market.”
Zach Putzman sees a similar pattern. “I got pigs droppin’ like bat shit out here, and it ain’t from the heat. I prob’ly I shoulda kept my wife in bed when she had that hundred ‘n four fever. But what are ya gonna do? I’m runnin’ a pig farm out here not a rest home.”
How long that farm, and many others, can withstand this viral assault is still unclear. Nikki Bartlett, epidemiologist with the CDC and guitarist for local bluegrass outfit, Center for Disease Control Boys, thinks not very long. “It’s clear this disease is spread from humans to pigs, and it’s spreading fast. In my view, the only answer is to remove the humans and let nature take its course.”
For Joe Burst, however, that solution could mean ruin. “I ain’t leavin’ my pigs ‘til you pry them from my cold, dead hands!” he said defiantly. “An’ that goes double fer ever’ damn farmer in these parts.”
State agriculture officials will decide this week what actions need to be taken.