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So what's the deal on swine flu?

Hudson, as with much of the country, was unable to escape the swine flu scare following an all-out national media blitz on the subject last week, but thus far has avoided the disease itself.

"There are no probable or confirmed cases of swine flu in St. Croix County," Laurie Diaby, public affairs officer for the St. Croix County Public Health Department, said Tuesday morning.

The flu epidemic that appeared to be concentrated in Mexico earlier in April got more real with the first case diagnosed in a small central Minnesota town last week, closing a school and bringing it all too close to the St. Croix Valley.

But by Tuesday, Minnesota officials reported a toned-down reaction to the virus and put it in the category of an ordinary seasonal flu bug.

"Minnesota changed its recommendations Tuesday," said Diaby. "They now will only test for the virus when an individual becomes hospitalized and are not recommending school closings."

Last Wednesday, Wissconsin Gov. Jim Doyle issued a statement from Madison citing the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services ranking the state "among the best prepared states in the nation when it comes to dealing with pandemic flu."

On Thursday, the governor issued a public health emergency stating that public health officials were working around the clock to monitor the situation and respond. "I encourage people to go about their daily lives as usual, but use precaution and common sense and follow the direction of health officials," he said.

Diaby said Tuesday morning Wisconsin had not relaxed its assessment of the flu. "We will follow the (state's) recommendations. You have to be careful," she said.

The national electronic media continued to flog the story mercilessly through last week, and the wagons began to circle. It was the lead story on every broadcast.

The electronic media did, however, capitulate during the week and began referring to Swine Flu as AH1N1, using the term attached to the strain of flu when it was discovered in the early 20th century.

The pork industry took a beating on Wall Street last week, and reports over the weekend indicated more than 20 countries vowed to halt pork imports from individual states or the USA all together. One-fourth of U.S.-produced pork is sent overseas and represents a $4.9 billion business.

And the bottom line is the swine flu is not transmitted by food.

Swine influenza viruses are not transmitted by food. You cannot get swine influenza from eating pork or pork products. Eating properly handled and cooked pork and pork products is safe. Cooking pork to an internal temperature of 160°F kills the swine flu virus as it does other bacteria and viruses.

Centers for Disease Control

As of 11 a.m. Tuesday, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta reported 403 confirmed cases of H1N1 flu in 38 states including three in Wisconsin and one in Minnesota. The lone death was recorded in Texas.

The Wisconsin cases included two in Milwaukee County and one in Adams County. They were announced as probable cases April 29 but confirmed May 2.

Diaby said H1N1 flu cases can only be confirmed by the CDC.

Somewhat overshadowed in the swine flu feeding frenzy was the fact that thousands of people die from the common flu and pneumonia each year. In 2009, CDC estimated 36,171 flu-related deaths occurred per year, on average, for nine seasons, from 1993 through 2003, in the U.S.

County establishes flu phone bank

The St. Croix County Public Health Department has begun a phone bank to answer residents' questions about the H1N1 flu outbreak and related topics. If area residents have questions, they should call (715) 246-8224, according to Public Health Officer Wendy Kramer. To stay current contact,

Swine Flu Definition:

H1N1 flu (swine flu) is a respiratory disease of pigs caused by type A influenza viruses that cause regular outbreaks in pigs. People do not normally get swine flu, but human infections can and do happen. Swine flu viruses have been reported to spread from person-to-person, but in the past, this transmission was limited and not sustained beyond three people. The current swine influenza A (H1N1) virus is contagious and is spreading from human to human. For more information contact: