Swine flu transferable from factory farmed animals to humans.
The combined swine-bird-human flu is causing a global health threat that is difficult to contain geographically
due to mass transportation modes such as air travel. Thousands of people have been infected across continents, with up to 159 lives lost so far in Mexico, plus one confirmed fatality in the United States.
In tracing the origin of the virus, Mexican officials have determined the country’s earliest cases were in La Gloria, a town near a US-Mexican owned pig factory farm that slaughters up to one million animals each year.
Residents have long complained of the stench permeating the community, along with persistent swarms of flies coming from manure lagoons.
Factory farm conditions such as these have long been viewed by public health officials as a threat to public safety. Prior to the current flu epidemic, mycologist Paul Stamets, an advisor to the University of Arizona College of Medicine, USA, spoke with Supreme Master Television about the threat of pandemics arising from factory farm conditions.
Paul Stamets (M): This is the scariest scenario that most virologists are extremely concerned about: A pig and a bird will infect a pig, both with flu viruses. In the pig then the flu viruses can recombine and that pig then can have a novel virus that will spread human to human.
It’s not just likely, it’s extremely probable that pandemic flu will go human to human in the next ten years. This is the biggest threat to the “bio security” of nations throughout the entire world!
VOICE: In factory farming scenarios, the sheer volumes of animals confined to a small space in stressful and inhumane conditions means that once a virus enters a population, it is 100 times more likely to spread than in a free range setting. Hans Kriek, campaign director of the New Zealand-based animal protection group SAFE, recently described a factory farming scenario:
Hans Kriek (m): 20,000 pigs live in what are called sow stalls, and these are pregnant pigs and they are kept in crates. And the crates are so small that the animal can't even turn around, so the pig can only stand up and lie down. They’re just standing in a bare concrete pen, crammed in, you just would not believe how many pigs you could cram it to a pen. And because this is out of sight, out of mind, it just carries on.
VOICE: Influenza is a zoonotic disease, meaning it originates in animals. New strains can easily develop and, with contact such as that found between factory farm workers and the animals, can then transfer across species to become human-transmitted, as explained by Dr. Gregory Gray, M.D. Director of the Center for the Study for Emerging Infectious Diseases at the University of Iowa,
USA. Dr. Gregory Gray (M): Influenza is an interesting virus in the sense that it’s zoonotic (of animal origin). It can move between species, and the viruses have been seen of course in swine and humans and birds. So anywhere where the different species mix, you have opportunity to jump species.
And of course, within species the viruses can be transmitted through water, direct contact, coughing, inanimate objects, etc. So there are a lot of ways these viruses can move around.
VOICE:In his studies of farm workers, slaughterhouse workers and veterinarians, Dr. Gray has found that those working directly with the animals have the highest incidence of zoonotic flu viruses, and can thus be the human bridge bringing the disease into the community.
Dr. Gregory Gray (M): We have found higher statistical evidence of previous infection with animal viruses among the people with occupational exposure to pigs and chickens than those people who have no such exposures.In one instance, some of the swine workers had an odds ratio, the evidence of elevated antibody titer against swine viruses, that was about 50 times higher than the university people who did not have exposure to pigs. So it’s relatively strong evidence that those swine workers, that their immune systems had
seen pig viruses before.
VOICE: With the billions of animals raised for meat production around the world, so many on factory farms, the likelihood of disease transmission seems high, indeed. We thank Mr. Stamets, Mr. Kriek, Dr. Gray and all others involved in helping us better understand the current alarming situation, as we also send our heartfelt prayers for the people affected by this new flu. May this incident awaken us to the need to protect our health and avoid such animal-derived diseases through the plant-based diet.