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The Swine flu virus is transmitted like human flu, via infected nasal secretions and respiratory droplets, such as those from the coughing of an infected person. It is also passed by direct contact, for example shaking hands or kissing. It can remain infectious on surfaces for 2 to 8 hours. Unlike the seasonal flu viruses, the H1N1 virus can infect lung cells deeply (as opposed to infecting the upper respiratory system only) causing pneumonia and in serious cases death.
Typical symptoms are: a sudden fever (high body temperature of 38°C / 100.4°F or above), a sudden cough Other symptoms may include: headache, tiredness, chills, aching muscles, limb or joint pain, diarrhoea or stomach upset, sore throat, runny nose, sneezing, loss of appetite
WHERE DID SWINE FLU COME FROM?
Scientists have traced the genetic lineage of the current swine flu strain to a swine virus called H3N2 that was first identified 10 years ago in factory farms in the US, where it spread and mutated at an alarming rate. Experts at that time reported that the H3N2 strain had absorbed new genes from bird and human flus, producing a double hybrid virus, and warned that the virus would someday evolve to infect humans, perhaps setting off a global pandemic. Eventually a variant of H3N2 mixed with a strain of Eurasian pig flu, producing the triple hybrid swine flu variant (a hybrid of a human virus, pig virus and bird virus) that’s infecting humans today. These new genes provided swine flu with the ability to quickly reproduce and spread throughout pig farms. Research by Dr Oliver Pybus of Oxford University’s Department of Zoology indicates that the movement of live pigs between Eurasia and North America seems to have allowed this mixing of different strains of flu virus to occur. The World Health Organization (WHO) has warned all governments to prepare for a longterm fight against swine flu, while Director General Margaret Chan said that the virus could change into a fatal form by mixing with the H5N1 bird flu virus currently spreading in the poultry population. Scientists are now realising that the way that our food is produced has played a major role in the outbreak of swine flu. Factory farms keep thousands of animals packed together in cramped, unhygienic conditions where they stand in their own excrement and can’t turn around, allowing disease to spread quickly from pig to pig before making the jump to humans. A single factory farm can produce 1.6 million tons of manure each year, which in turn contaminates local water resources through runoff into streams, rivers and lakes. This is more pollution than is produced by the city of Houston, Texas! It’s too expensive to treat this huge amount of manure in waste water plants that handle human sewage, so most pork producers opt to store the manure in giant outdoor lagoons. Some factory farms spray the excess waste into the air, nominally to spray it on the fields to grow crops to feed the pigs; however there is often so much effluent that the land cannot absorb all the manure. This spray can carry potentially deadly E. coli and salmonella, which are later found on tomatoes, spinach, peppers, etc. To keep the pigs disease-free, factory farm owners give them an increasing amount of antibiotics, which has resulted in the disease-causing microbes becoming antibiotic resistant. In fact
in the USA, approximately 70% of antibiotics and related drugs produced in the US are given to livestock. The result is that pig workers in Europe and North American have been found to be more susceptible to MRSA, drug resistant E.coli and salmonella and swine flu, which can be very deadly because few if any antibiotics are effective once someone catches an antibioticresistant disease. For example, in tests carried out in Iowa and Illinois, USA, 49% of pigs and 45% of the workers who worked with the pigs tested positive for MRSA. Studies conducted by researchers at the University of Iowa revealed that people working with animals are 50 times more likely to catch respiratory illnesses and viruses from the animals they work with.
Pew Commission, USA on Industrial Farm Animal Production concluded in no uncertain terms in its report that factory farm conditions pose ”unacceptable” public health risks.
HAVE THERE BEEN OTHER DISEASES RELATED TO FACTORY FARMING?
Swine flu is not the only deadly human disease traced to factory farming. Mad Cow Disease has killed many people when natural herbivores such as cows and sheep were turned into cannibals by feeding them slaughter-plant waste, blood and manure. In 2005, China experienced the world’s largest and deadliest outbreak of an emerging pig pathogen called Strep suis, causing meningitis and deafness in people handling infected pork products. Pig factories in Malaysia birthed one of the deadliest of human pathogens: the Nipah virus. a contagious respiratory disease causing relapsing brain infections, the Nipah virus kills 40% of people infected. In July 2009, the Ebola virus was detected in pigs in the Philippines. As with Swine flu the danger is that as the virus evolves, it will mutate and return to the human population in a much more virulent form.
The worst plague in human history was triggered by an H1N1 avian flu virus, which jumped the species barrier from birds to humans, infecting more than 500 million people (more than a quarter of the human race at that time) and went on to kill as many as 50 to 100 million people in the 1918 flu pandemic. No disease, war or famine ever killed so many people in such a short a time. The pigs then re-contracted the virus from humans, and since then it has continued to circulate and mutate amongst the pigs.
HUMAN DISEASES OF ANIMAL ORIGIN
According to the World Organisation for Animal Health, 60% of human pathogens and 75% of recent emerging diseases, including TB, are of animal origin. Diseases which are passed from animals to humans are called ‘zoonotic’. All areas of meat, poultry, egg, and dairy production (e.g. meat transportation and processing, animal rendering, manure handling practices) can contribute to food contamination and zoonotic disease. In the US, around 73,000 illnesses each year are caused by E. coli infection, leading to over 2,000 hospitalisations and 60 deaths and costing an estimated $405 million annually. Consumption of food and water contaminated with animal wastes is a major route of human infection. The UK Cabinet paper, Food Matters, states that deaths due to Listeria are rising and that meat contamination is a continuing challenge, as is the threat of diseases transferring from animals to humans.
In 2003, the American Public Health Association, the largest and oldest association of public health professionals in the world, called for a moratorium on factory farming. In 2005, the United Nations urged that “governments, local authorities and international agencies need to take a greatly increased role in combating the role of factory-farming, which, they said, com” bined with live animal markets, “provide ideal conditions for the [influenza] virus to spread and mutate into a more dangerous form. In ” April 2008, after a 2.5 year investigation, the
COSTS OF A PANDEMIC
The World Bank estimated in 2008 that a flu pandemic could cost $3 trillion worldwide and cause an almost 5% decrease in world GDP with more than 70 million people dying worldwide in a severe pandemic. The Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine in the US has called on leaders to “shut down the flu farms” saying that “1 in 3 pigs harbour flu viruses. It is time for all of us to wake up to the fact that the way we are raising animals is creating an opportunity for viruses or diseases to afflict the global community, with potentially millions of human casualties. ”
• • • • • • • • • • Wash your hands frequently: Use antibacterial soaps or alcohol-based hand cleaner when soap and water are not available. Wash thoroughly for 30 seconds getting under the fingernails Wear a face mask when outside: a surgical or a respirator variety (N95). [to protect others, always cough or sneeze into a tissue]. Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth until you have washed your hands Avoid close contact with infected people or stand a few feet away from them and avoid physical contact Boost your immune system: Keeping your body strong, nourished, and ready to fight infection. Stick with whole grains, colourful vegetables, and vitamin-rich fruits. Keep hydrated: Drink 8 to10 glasses of water each day to flush toxins from your system and maintain good moisture and mucous production in your sinuses Be physically active: Moderate exercise can support the immune system by increasing circulation and oxygenating the body Avoid alcohol: Apart from being a mood depressant, alcohol is an immune suppressant that can decrease your resistance to viral infections like swine flu When flying, carry onboard antibacterial wet-tissues or a small antibacterial spray, cleaning hands regularly. Also try to minimize putting your hands near to your ears, nose or mouth. Get plenty of sleep to keep your immune system in good shape
THE LINK BETWEEN HEALTH AND A PLANT-BASED DIET
We now know that swine flu has its origins in the cramped and filthy conditions of factory farms. In order to prevent the outbreak of such diseases in the future, we need to rethink what we eat and where we get it from. When Oprah Winfrey went on a three week vegan diet cleanse, she was surprised to know it was so satisfying. She stated “Wow, wow, wow! I never imagined meatless meals could be so satisfying. I can honestly say every meal was a surprise and a delight. ” More and more medical research is becoming available showing the link between a healthy lifestyle and a plant-based diet. When we look at illnesses, we see that three of the biggest killers in the world today are cardiovascular disease, cancer and diabetes. The World Health Organisation reports that cardiovascular diseases account for almost half of the total chronic disease deaths. Obesity and diabetes are on the rise and
are starting to appear earlier in life. In fact, obesity is the second greatest self-caused killer after smoking. Research by medical doctors such as Dr. Neal Barnard, Dr. Gabriel Cousens, Dr. John McDougall, and Dr. Caldwell Esselstyn has found that vegan diets can be used to reverse and even cure these diseases. A 2007 article in the world’s leading medical journal ‘The Lancet’ entitled ‘Food, livestock production, energy, climate change, and health’ stated that there is strong scientific evidence that vegetables and fruits protect against these diseases, whilst the health risks posed by the rapid worldwide growth in meat consumption, which accounts for nearly one fifth of global greenhouse gas emissions, is both exacerbating climate change and directly contributing to certain diseases. The World Cancer Research Fund in its 2007 report recommended reducing the consumption of red and processed meats stating that they are a convincing cause of colorectal cancer. In August 2009, they started urging parents not to put meat in children’s lunchboxes, believing that bad eating habits can start in childhood. Their reports state scientific evidence that links “processed meats to an increase in bowel cancer risk” and that curing, salting or adding preservatives to meat can introduce carcinogenic substances. Lisa Cooney, Head of Education at the World Cancer Research Fund, interviewed on the BBC News recommended that the best approach for adults and children alike is to avoid cancer-causing meats completely. A vegan diet is healthier than a vegetarian diet because of the health risks involved in consuming dairy products. Dairy products contain saturated fat and cholesterol. A 2007 study based on adults 65 years or older, published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, discovered that a diet with many dairy products increases your chances of developing cancer by 300%. Calcium in green leafy vegetables is better absorbed than in dairy products. One cup of cooked kale or turnip greens, 2 packets of instant oats, two-thirds of a cup of tofu or two-thirds of a cup of broccoli, each of these contain the same amount of absorbable calcium as 1 cup of cow’s milk. According to Dr. Campbell. author of the China Study, “People who ate the most animal-based foods got the most chronic disease … People who ate the most plant-based foods were the healthiest and tended to avoid chronic disease. ”
The American Dietetic Association recently stated (July 2009) that “vegetarian diets, including vegan diets, are healthful, nutritionally adequate and may provide health benefits in the prevention and treatment of certain diseases, and are appropriate for individuals during all stages of the life-cycle including pregnancy, lactation, infancy, childhood and adolescence and for athletes.”
http://www.hsus.org/farm/news/ournews/qa_on_swine_flu_050209.html Swine Flu Ancestor Born on U.S. Factory Farms http://www.wired.com/wiredscience/2009/05/swineflufarm/ Latest Swine Flu News and Information http://www.suprememastertelevision.com/swine-flu/ CDC Confirms Ties to Virus First Discovered in U.S. Pig Factories http://www.hsus.org/farm/news/ournews/swine_flu_virus_origin_1998_042909.html Killers http://www.suprememastertelevision.com/killers/ The Long Haul: Risks Associated with Livestock Transport http://www.hsus.org/farm/resources/research/pubhealth/risks_livestock_transport.html
What You Should Know about Swine Flu: Q&A with Dr. Michael Greger
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