Are pigs getting a bad rap?

April 30, 2009 3:23:42 PM PDT
The World Health Organization announced Thursday it will no longer refer to the virus as the "swine flu." The agency say the term is misleading consumers and causing some countries to ban pork products needlessly, because there is no evidence of infection in pigs, or of humans getting the infection directly from pigs. This has also had an effect on those who make a living breeding, raising and selling pork. John Kellogg is incredibly protective of his pigs. He thinks they're getting a bad rap.

"I would prefer something like 'North American Flu.' Pick a name. Anything other than swine flu,' Kellogg said.

Kellogg has nearly 4,000 hogs on his farm in Yorkville.

Kellogg wouldn't let ABC7 shoot video at his farm because national food safety and security guidelines suggest only healthy farm workers are allowed contact with the animals. Essentially, he was worried news crews would get the pigs sick. Not the other way around.

"What we're doing right now is not that different from what we've been doing for the last 10-15 years," Kellogg said.

Hogs are traded on the floor of the Chicago Mercantile Exchange. And since the outbreak went global over the weekend, prices have plummeted.

"It appears people are still uncomfortable about pork right now," said Kellogg.

And that means income for farmers has been hit. Kellogg says, on weekly sales runs, his hogs are fetching an average of $18 a head less. In just one week, he has lost more than $11,000.

"It's big money, particularly at a time when were not covering production costs before this happened," said Kellogg.

So how did the name swine flu come to be? Well this strain of flu is a mixture of pig, human and bird viruses. But you can't catch it by eating pork. And no pig anywhere in the world has been found ill will the virus commonly called swine flu.

In recent days, industry lobbyists have made headway in changing the name of this outbreak...and that is better than the sound of a squeal at sunset to those who make their living by being purveyors of pork.