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July 06, 2020 - NYDailyNews

USA: Putting us at risk of another pandemic: The USDA's epic failure

USA: Putting us at risk of another pandemic: The USDA's epic failure
Pigs in Animal AgFile Photo / © Photabulous!

While the United States scrambles to address the COVID-19 pandemic, a recent study has identified a new H1N1 swine flu strain that, the study authors warn, has “all the essential hallmarks of a candidate pandemic virus.” They conclude by “urgently” recommending close monitoring.

But the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) is reducing, not increasing, such monitoring. This reduction of oversight compounds longstanding failures to protect Americans from myriad diseases transmitted by pigs and puts us all at risk.

In the new study, more than one in ten of those who worked around pigs tested positive for the new H1N1 strain. Among young workers — those aged 18 to 35 — that rate jumped to more than one in five. A decade ago, H1N1 killed an estimated 151,700 to 575,400 people worldwide, including more than 12,000 Americans. Unlike COVID-19 and seasonal flu epidemics, the majority of those deaths involved younger people.

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