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Swine Flu Outbreak -- Nature Biting Back at Industrial Animal Production?

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Orwellian_Ghost Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Apr-26-09 04:55 PM
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Swine Flu Outbreak -- Nature Biting Back at Industrial Animal Production?


One of the first things they will want to look at are the hundreds of industrial-scale hog facilities that have sprung up around Mexico in recent years, and the thousands of people employed inside the crowded, pathogen-filled confinement buildings and processing plants.



Industry calls these massive compounds "confined animal feeding operations," or CAFOs (KAY-fohs), though most people know them simply as "factory farms." You have seen them before while flying: Long white buildings lined up in tightly packed rows of three, four or more. Within each confinement, thousands of pigs are restricted to indoor pens and grain-fed for market, while breeding sows are kept in small metal crates where they spend most of their lives pregnant or nursing piglets.



In the last several years, U.S. hog conglomerates have opened giant swine CAFOs south of the border, including dozens around Mexico City in the neighboring states of Mexico and Puebla. Smithfield Foods also reportedly operates a huge swine facility in the State of Veracruz. Many of these CAFOs raise tens of thousands of pigs at a time. Cheaper labor costs and a desire to enter the Latin American market are drawing more industrialized agriculture to Mexico all the time, wiping out smaller, traditional farms, which now account for only a small portion of swine production in Mexico.



"Classic" swine flu virus (not the novel, mutated form in the news) is considered endemic in southern Mexico, while the region around the capital is classified as an "eradication area" - meaning the disease is present, and efforts are underway to control it. For some reason, vaccination of pigs against swine flu is prohibited in this area, and growers rely instead on depopulation and restriction of animal movement when outbreaks occur.

U.S. and Mexican epidemiologists and veterinarians will surely want to take swine samples from Mexican CAFOs and examine them for the newly discovered influenza strain (No one knows exactly how long it has been in circulation). And though it is too early to know if this new virus mutated and incubated on Mexican hog CAFOs, the industrialized facilities unquestionably belong on the list of suspects.

<snip>

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/david-kirby/swine-flu-outbreak----nat_b_191408.html
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HereSince1628 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Apr-26-09 05:08 PM
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1. Interesting, but SE Asia is generally considered the incubator of new flus
In large part because of densities and proximities of humans and their productions animals living in unhygienic conditions.

Which is to say that the incubator of influenza that most public health officials identify is actually the opposite of factory farms.

So, it will be interesting to see where the geographic origin of this flu is ultimately placed.


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TBF Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Apr-26-09 07:11 PM
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2. Yeah, in the article it actually talks about that -
"And of course, people fly, too. Dr. Silbergeld thinks that human travel is the most likely way that Eurasian swine viral components made their way to Mexico. "A tourist from China could have gone to Mexico City, and that Asian strain was picked up by somebody else, who then went to a swine barn," she suggested. "It's a likely explanation. Sometimes we overestimate what wild birds can do."

Still, not a bad time to go vegan if you haven't already.
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ConcernedCanuk Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Apr-26-09 10:19 PM
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3. Google has an on-line preview version of the book Fatal Harvest
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