Panicking is Nothing New When Outbreaks Strike

By Camaron Abundes   
NewsWest 9

WEST TEXAS- Long before the latest Swine Flu outbreak Tommy Bishop of Don Bishops Senior Show Pigs was concerned about safety. Bishop not only feeds and waters his herd, he prevents disease by limiting what visitors track into the farm.

"Just to keep them from tracking other diseases in from other facilities or other stock shows you want to make sure their hands and feet are sanitized, and they don't bring anything in to the farm." Bishop says he also asks visitors to step in an iodine solution before entering the farm.

The Swine Flu scare is giving pigs and pork products a bit of a bad wrap. Rick Howell, also races show pigs and he says it's important to remember pigs and pork products are not affected by the flu.

"Pigs can get the flu just like humans and we try to watch our herds to make sure we don't see anything unusual and if we do we try to get a hold of our vet to do something about it," Howell said.

Dr. Scott Carson, a professor at the University of Texas at the Permian Basins said this is nothing new. In the face of an outbreak, people often practice avoidance.

"They do feel the effects, rightly or wrongly, they're going to feel." Dr. Carson said it's a part of the discovery process.

Remember the peanut grower? This year's salmonella scare followed a tough and costly growing season according to Western Peanut Growers Board President Jimbo Grissom.

"We're planting peanuts and hoping for a better price as the year goes on." Grissom said the high cost of fuel, no rain and an early freeze all made the situation much worse.
The Food and Drug Administration linked salmonella to just one company, but it's still effecting the industry in West Texas.

Grissom tells NewsWest 9, last year West Texas peanuts amounted to one-third of all peanut crops in the Country, but this year growers locally are planting between 40-60 percent fewer crops.

"If you say dire straights. It is probably dire straights for the peanut industry," he said.

Call it hysteria or the perfect storm but the same factors; high fuel costs and drought, effecting the peanut farmer, also hurt the Dairy Industry in Lea County. According to the U.S.D.A., the melamine milk scare in China also prompted a drop off in milk sales.

"Sometimes we got to be careful, we don't just associate something with just a name, whether it's mad cow or it's swine flu or whatever it is," Howell said.

This too shall pass but it makes one wonder what's the next big scare?

"What's going to get our attention and as soon as it's got our attention, it's passed," Dr. Carson said.