Sunday, November 15, 2009

A lesson in viruses, part five (of five), and final thoughts.

This video is maybe most pertinent to the few people I know who feed their dogs raw chicken. Even though as of when this video was made, in 2007, avian flu hadn't shown up in dogs, it seems perfectly plausible that it could.

Now, about this animals-to-people flu situation. It is really, really convenient how we got through this whole video sequence without actually addressing how the avian flu pandemics happened. Sure, maybe the virus is spread from birds to pigs, and then from pigs to humans. OK. Through what vectors? It isn't addressed. What is mentioned, though, is that the virus can be spread through infected birds' feces. Hmm. How would pigs come into contact with bird feces? I've seen some ludicrous mentions here and there about keeping feeding pens covered so forth - as if birds flying overhead and incidentally crapping into feeding pens could spread enough of a virus into the pig population to cause a pandemic? Sorry, I'm not buying it.

This is a very good article, which mentions that during the 1918 pandemic of bird flu pigs were simultaneously infected. But it doesn't draw any conclusions that the pigs then transmitted the disease to humans. On that front I'm not really getting any answers, as the research seems to be quite new.

What does seem to be quite clear, though, is that though the virus is found in wild birds, it isn't a problem until it's in domestic birds. Read: livestock. Reread: the meat industry, mass production of food animals, and good old factory farming - which has aptly been described as "an ideal system for pathogens."

To consider: do we really need to be creating 50 billion food birds a year? Is that really a good idea?

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