Swine Flu is NOT a foodborne illness. Now called the 2009 H1N1 flu, scientists originally called it “swine flu” because laboratory testing showed genes in the new virus were like viruses that normally occur in North American pigs. More research, however, showed the H1N1 flu has two genes that normally are found in pigs in Europe and Asia plus bird or Avian genes and human genes too.
Scientists call this a “quadruple reassortant” virus. The good news is you can go eat a bar-b-que pork sandwich without worry.
H1N1 is not spread by food. You cannot get it from eating pork or pork products. Properly handled and cooked pork products are safe. We assume the same goes for poultry.
According to the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention, tap water that has been treated by conventional disinfection processes does not likely pose a risk for transmission of influenza viruses. Current drinking water treatment regulations provide a high degree of protection from viruses.
No research has been completed on the susceptibility of 2009 H1N1 flu virus to conventional drinking water treatment processes. However, recent studies have demonstrated that free chlorine levels typically used in drinking water treatment are adequate to inactivate highly pathogenic H5N1 avian influenza. It is likely that other influenza viruses such as 2009 H1N1 would also be similarly inactivated by chlorination. To date, there have been no documented human cases of influenza caused by exposure to influenza-contaminated drinking water.
Influenza viruses infect the human upper respiratory tract. There has never been a documented case of influenza virus infection associated with water exposure involving recreational uses, according to CDC.
Recreational water that has been treated at CDC recommended disinfectant levels do not likely pose a risk for transmission of influenza viruses. No research has been completed on the susceptibility of 2009 H1N1 influenza virus to chlorine and other disinfectants used in swimming pools, spas, water parks, interactive fountains, and other treated recreational venues.
However, recent studies have demonstrated that free chlorine levels recommended by CDC (1-3 parts per million [ppm or mg/L] for pools and 2-5 ppm for spas) are adequate to disinfect avian influenza A (H5N1) virus. It is likely that other influenza viruses such as 2009 H1N1 virus would also be similarly disinfected by chlorine.
Just like any other human-to-human contact, however, recreational swimming venues can be places where the 2009 N1N1 flu is spread. Flu viruses are spread mainly from person to person through coughing or sneezing of people with influenza. Touching something with flu virus on it and then touching your mouth or nose can also spread it.