Monday, April 27, 2009

Outbreak of Swine Flu Linked to Smithfield Factory Farms

Are you worried about contracting the Swine Flu? It is definitely a cause for concern, but it is one that should be thoroughly understood in regard to its origins. Unfortunately, one of the culprits of this disease is once again being connected to a factory farm source. This virus is being described as a combination between avian (bird), swine, and human strain of flu. So far, 1000 people in the U.S. and Mexico have been infected, with 68 left dead. This outbreak is being heralded by health officials as easily capable of reaching global pandemic proportions.

It is well-known from media reports that the facilities where the pigs from these operations are housed have open lagoons of swine waste which are creating massive pollution from the stench to enormous clouds of flies overhead to water contamination - all of which are responsible for causing positive development of implacable pathogens.

"According to physicians from the state of Vera Cruz and the Mexican health agency IMSS, the epidemic's vector could be the clouds of flies created by hog CAFOs and the manure lagoons where the U.S.-Mexican company (Smithfield's Granjas Carroll subsidiary) through tons of manure."

The outbreak originated in Vera Cruz, Mexico where an enormous hog-producing operation resides. Smithfield Foods owns this subsidiary and reports on their web site to produce 950,000 hogs annually.

Although controversy exists about exactly how the virus is spread, some sources say it cannot be contracted from consuming the meat and that it must be spread through human-to-human contamination. Some say otherwise. However, as with MRSA, this virus has been found to reside in the body environments of both humans and pigs:

"One of the first clues that pigs could infect people with MRSA came in the Netherlands in 2004, when a young woman tested positive for a new strain of MRSA, called ST398. The family lived on a farm, so public health authorities swept in — and found that three family members, three co-workers and 8 of 10 pigs tested all carried MRSA."

Now this same strain of MRSA has also been found in the United States. A new study by Tara Smith, a University of Iowa epidemiologist, found that 45 percent of pig farmers she sampled carried MRSA, as did 49 percent of the hogs tested."

With the MRSA virus, experts repeatedly directed consumers to wash hands after preparing and cooking raw pork. They also assured us that eating this possibly infected pork meat would be perfectly safe to do as long as it was properly cooked. What kind of nonsense is this logic, and realistically, why should the Swine Flu virus be any different? Do you really want to prepare or consume pork from an unknown source that could possibly contain the Swine Flu virus or MRSA bacteria?

Even if, without a doubt, this virus is NOT spread from actually consuming the meat from pigs, there is irrefutable evidence at hand which proves that this virus originated within a factory farm environment in the first place. Doesn't this say something about our insatiable appetite for meat and having it at any cost? Doesn't it say something about the almighty dollar being placed above the well-being and health of human beings, animals, and the environment?

The best prevention for any virus or flu - this pandemic threat being no different - is by healthy lifestyle choices which include taking extreme care to have proper nutrition and good, clean, sustainable sources of food. It is nearly impossible for anyone to contract such viruses or bacteria from animals raised in healthy, sustainable environments.

Not until human beings understand the horrific and far-reaching repercussions of raising animals in factory farm environments for food will the passage of such lethal viruses and bacteria come to a halt.

For an informative article about the dangers of industrially-produced animal products on human health and the environment, visit The Sustainable Table.

For a recent article about the connection between the factory farm environment and Swine Flu, visit Grist.

For more information on Swine Flu outbreaks, visit Swine Flu Outbreak News.

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