Pig farmers struggle with swine flu fears

By: Kevin Wheeler  Bio | Email | Twitter

LAUREL, MS (WDAM) - At Hilltop Swine Farm in Laurel, they sell show pigs, but the family who owns the business is watching closely as fears about Swine Flu could affect their livliehood.

"It doesn't have anything to do with swine actually," said John Collins, who helps his daughter run the farm.

The so-called swine flu, or H1N1 virus, has taken a toll on the pork industry. The virus was first called "swine flu" because this strain of human, swine, and avian influenza is similar to swine influenza.

There have been 2,600 cases of the flu and three people have died. Collins said this outbreak has hit the pork industry from top to bottom.

"People believe that they eat pork they are liable to be able to get the flu which is not so," said Collins. "It's been about a 15 to 20 percent reduction in what you're selling for. It's hurt the pig farmers - big pig farmers."

Collins hopes more people will educate themselves about the virus.  He said neither he, nor anyone else should be afraid to handle or eat pork.

"Last weekend, I donated two (pigs) to my church, and they cooked them; and the people down there bragged on them," said Collins.