What if we stopped raising pigs? Easy answer: we would stop the swine flu.
We pay a very high price from raising pigs and, of course, the pigs do as well. A big part of that price is the swine flu. U.S. health officials are tracking a newly discovered strain of swine flu in China they say has the characteristics of viruses with potential to cause another human pandemic. Although the virus has not yet been detected in the U.S. or shown human to human transition, doctors have reason to worry it could spell trouble.
Here’s why they’re worried. The new virus appears to grow well in the cells lining the human airway, and possesses all the essential hallmarks of being highly adapted to infect humans, according to a recent study.
Pigs are considered as important hosts or “mixing vessels” for the generation of pandemic influenza viruses. Systematic surveillance of influenza viruses in pigs is essential for early warning and preparedness for the next potential pandemic.
The virus, which scientists are calling G4 EA H1N1 is exhibiting “reassortment capabilities.” When you get a brand new virus that turns out to be a pandemic virus, it’s either due to mutations and/or the reassortment or exchanges of genes. This virus has characteristics of the 2009 H1N1 virus, and of the original 1918 Flu which some other flu viruses have, as well as segments from pigs. The H1N1 swine flu and 1918 pandemic flu were both considered very dangerous viruses that spread across the globe.
Most pigs are raised in very harsh over crowded conditions on what’s known as factory farms. But if we didn’t raise pigs, almost all the threat of swine flu would disappear. How many people could be saved from sickness and death? Is bacon really worth all the suffering and death? Learn more about the flu and how it arises on factory chicken and pig farms.
Diseases that come to humans from animals are called zoonoses. The current corona virus epidemic, as well as the Flu, Ebola and other diseases, all started by eating animals, thus exposing humans to viruses that emerge from animals. Once that happens, the virus can spread from person to person, as well as from animals, and a pandemic can start.
In Wuhan, China, the alarmingly contagious virus currently spreading around the world, has been identified as a zoonotic coronavirus, similar to SARS (Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome) coronavirus, and MERS (Middle East Respiratory Syndrome) coronavirus. This marks the third re-emergence this century of a zoonotic coronavirus.
Public health officials suspect that the current outbreak may have originated at a live-animal market in Wuhan. Selling and eating wild animals, disrupting ecosystems, and destroying forests all contribute to the risks of disease-causing viruses spreading into human populations. Read more
It’s flu season again! The flu is more common than many people think. Last year 25 million Americans got the flu. The question is, what can be done about it? Must we endure this every year? Is the only partially effective flu shot the only answer? And what does being a vegetarian have to do with it?
The effectiveness of the flu vaccine varies quite a bit from year to year – in years where there’s a good match of the vaccine to the viruses around us it can be effective 40-60% of the time, but in early 2019 it was only effective 29% overall, and some years it has been worse than that.
Cutting out the demand for meat is the only real answer, so being a vegetarian has everything to do with it. We could stop flu pandemics before they ever get started, and get rid of the flu once and for all. Remember, the flu vaccine only protects a person from getting sick, but it doesn’t prevent the virus from occurring in the first place. The flu doesn’t just happen – it is born and bred on super-crowded animal “factory farms”. Only the widespread adoption of a vegetarian diet and the subsequent collapse of factory farming can prevent the next flu pandemic. Read more