This isn’t what you want to hear about in the wake of the holiday feast, but here goes. From a meat-industry trade journal:
A new strain of swine influenza — H2N3, which belongs to the group of H2 influenza viruses that last infected humans during the 1957 pandemic, has been identified by researchers. However, this new strain has a molecular twist: It is composed of avian and swine influenza genes.
Yikes: Bird and pig flus, combined into one that can infect humans. As the trade journal puts it:
These findings provide further evidence that swine have the potential to serve as a "mixing vessel" for influenza viruses carried by birds, pigs and humans.
What can this mean? The trade journal calls for the meat industry to "continue monitoring swine — and livestock workers — for H2-subtype viruses and other influenza strains that might someday threaten swine and human health."
Hard to argue with that, but I have a better idea: Stop confining hogs and chickens into tiny spaces amid their own excrement and lashing them with antibiotics. Just a thought.