The idea that his North Las Vegas pig farm could be mentioned in the same breath as a growing swine flu outbreak has Bob Combs squealing in protest.
"People now are so doggone panic-prone," the 69-year-old owner of R.C. Farms said Wednesday as he showed off a new litter of piglets.
Combs, who has for decades operated the pig farm on El Campo Grande Avenue near North Fifth Street, has gotten quite a bit of attention, mostly from the media, since news of the outbreak began circulating.
The attention doesn't bother the friendly pig farmer. What does is the incorrect notion that a person could catch this swine flu from his, or any, pigs.
"It cannot be transferred from pig to human," he said.
Of course not, health officials agreed.
"It's not something that is circulating in pigs. It's circulating in humans," said Brian Labus, senior epidemiologist with the Southern Nevada Health District.
Scientists believe that somewhere in the world, months or even a year ago, a pig virus jumped to a human and mutated, and has been spreading between humans ever since. Unlike with bird flu, doctors have no evidence suggesting a direct pig-to-human infection from this strain, which is why they haven't recommended killing pigs.
Labus said that the virus is "made up of pieces from four different influenza viruses" and that the only risk is from "person-to-person spread."
You also can't get swine flu from eating hot dogs, bacon or any other pork product.
"The greatest risk is not food on the plate but the person serving it to you," Labus said.
Although epidemiologists continue to stress it is humans, not pigs, spreading the disease, sales have plunged for pork producers around the world. Egypt began slaughtering its roughly 300,000 pigs on Wednesday, even though no cases have been reported there.
Pork producers are trying to get people to stop calling the disease swine flu, and President Barack Obama notably referred to it Wednesday only by its scientific name, H1N1.
Combs, who sells pigs to slaughterhouses out of state, said his business has yet to be affected by the scare.
The worst that's happened so far is that a pre-school cancelled its field trip to his farm. Combs hopes that's as bad as it gets.
"Let's just keep things in perspective," he said. "Don't go doing unfair things to people because of fear."
The Associated Press contributed to this report. Contact reporter Lynnette Curtis at firstname.lastname@example.org or 702-383-0285.