Prof Featured on National News, U of G Provides Expertise on H1N1 Flu Virus

May 06, 2009 - In the News

Prof. Cate Dewey, chair of the Department of Population Medicine and a professor of swine health management and epidemiology, was featured on CBC TV's national evening news program The National Wednesday night and CTV's Canada AM this morning responding to comments from the World Health Organization about pork product and workers handling pigs. In the segments, Dewey explained that pork is safe to eat because the H1N1 flu virus only affects the respiratory system of both humans and animals, not the muscle, and therefore cannot enter the food chain. (To watch the CBC news report, click on "latest broadcast and scroll to 8:40 in the report).

Dewey has been front and centre in media reports about the HINI flu virus since the initial outbreak. Most recently, she was quoted in a online news story about farm safety and story in Saturday's Toronto Star, discussing the virus and transmission. She was also extensively in a front page story in Wednesday's Globe and Mail, discussing potential sources of the outbreak. Dewey was also featured on CTV news Tuesday night.

Other U of G faculty and researchers have also been prominently featured in national news reports, providing everything from background to insight and commentary on a range of issues related to the novel cases of the H1N1 flu virus.

Prof. David Waltner-Toews of the Department of Population Medicine was on the award-winning CBC talk show, The Hour Monday discussing the H1N1 flu virus with host George Stroumboulopoulos. The Hour is a hybrid of news and celebrity, with discussions covering politics, the arts, entertainment, the environment, human rights, sports and more. Stroumboulopoulos has interviewed many of the most influential and recognized people in the world on the program.

Waltner-Toews, president of Veterinarians Without Borders Canada, is the author of The Chickens Fight Back: Pandemic Panics and Deadly Diseases That Jump From Animals to People. Published in 2007, the book disentangles myth from reality about zoonoses. Waltner-Toews also has been featured this week on the national CBC radio program The Current. He talked about zoonotic diseases (those that can jump between animals and humans), the H1N1 virus and conditions that can lead to such outbreaks. He also took part in an online interview with (CBC's online news agency), providing answers to frequently asked questions on the topic.

On Saturday, Prof. Chris Bauch, Mathematics and Statistics, was featured in a Globe and Mail story discussing how he and other math modelers have been asked by the Ontario Agency for Health Protection and Promotion to make predictions on how the H1N1 virus will spread. Bauch was quoted as saying early indicators show that this virus is not as transmissible as some of pandemics in the past. In previous studies, Bauch has created math models to analyze things such as whether voluntary vaccination policies for diseases such as smallpox could result in increased mortality rates and how the perceived risk of vaccines among the general public influences vaccination rates and disease outbreaks.

Davor Ojkic, a scientist with the Animal Health Lab, was featured in CTV news reports this week, discussing the origins of the virus and safety issues. Monday, he was interviewed by CTV health reporter Avis Favaro. In addition, the southwestern Ontario segment also highlighted the testing and research conducted at the U of G laboratory.

Ridgetown Campus agricultural economics professor Ken McEwen was interviewed by more than a dozen CBC radio stations across the country on Monday afternoon. He discussed the possible economic impacts of the outbreak.

Other U of G experts continue to make themselves available to discuss the outbreak, including population medicine professor Jan Sargeant. Sargeant is director of the U of G's Centre for Public Health and Zoonoses. This one-of-a-kind facility at the Ontario Veterinary College, which officially opened Monday, brings together researchers to address new or re-emerging zoonotic diseases such as bird flu, SARS, E. coli 0157:H7 and West Nile virus that threaten public health.

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