Rumors as Virulent as Swine Flu Itself

Theories implicate everyone from Smithfield Foods to al-Qaeda as responsible

By Nick McMaster,  Newser Staff

Posted Apr 30, 2009 1:31 PM CDT

(Newser) – Rumors about the origins of the swine flu outbreak are spreading faster than the virus itself, with theories ranging from a group of slaughtered pigs in China to an al-Qaeda conspiracy, Reuters reports. China’s government was actually prompted into making a formal statement by international media reports suggesting that dead pigs in one province spawned the virus.

One US hog operation quickly refuted reports from two Mexican newspapers that a factory farm there was the source. Most fantastic is an Internet report that Mexican drug cartels and al-Qaeda pooled genetic-engineering expertise to manufacture the virus. “The claim of the conspiracy theorists is that this new combination could not have occurred naturally, but this is not true,” said the New Scientist’s biology editor.

Jose Luis Hernandez, 76, shines shoes as both he and his customer wear masks at the Zocalo Plaza in Mexico City today.
Jose Luis Hernandez, 76, shines shoes as both he and his customer wear masks at the Zocalo Plaza in Mexico City today.   (AP Photo)
People wearing protective face masks as a precaution against swine flu pray to an image of the Virgin of Guadaloupe at the Basilica of Guadaloupe in Mexico City today.
People wearing protective face masks as a precaution against swine flu pray to an image of the Virgin of Guadaloupe at the Basilica of Guadaloupe in Mexico City today.   (AP Photo)
A woman holding a child leaves the area set up to treat people suspected of being sick with swine flu at the naval hospital in Mexico City today.
A woman holding a child leaves the area set up to treat people suspected of being sick with swine flu at the naval hospital in Mexico City today.   (AP Photo)
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Flu viruses consisting of a mixture of human, swine and bird strains have been found before.
- Michael Le Page, biology editor for the New Scientist

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