This presents a strong case in favor of vegetarianism, or certainly for only consuming animal products that have been raised in organic, humane conditions. The way that animals are factory-farmed would make you shudder.
HSUS: Factory Farming the Root Cause of Swine Flu
The H1N1 swine flu virus in North America currently concerning global public health officials is not the first triple hybrid human/bird/pig flu virus to be discovered.
First Found on a Factory Farm
The first was discovered in a North Carolina factory farm in 1998. Since the 1918 pandemic, an H1N1 flu virus has circulated in pig populations, becoming one of the most common causes of respiratory disease on North American pig farms.
In August 1998, however, a barking cough resounded throughout a North Carolina pig farm in which all the thousands of breeding sows fell ill. An aggressive H3N2 virus was discovered, the type of influenza that had been circulating in humans since 1968.
Not only was this highly unusual—only a single strain of human virus had ever previously been isolated from an American pig population—but upon sequencing of the viral genome, researchers found that it was not just a double reassortment (a hybrid of human and pig virus, for example), but a never-before-described triple reassortment, a hybrid of three viruses—a human virus, a pig virus and a bird virus.
Intensive Farming is the Problem
Dr. Robert Webster, one of the world’s leading experts of flu virus evolution, blames the emergence of the 1998 virus on the “recently evolving intensive farming practice in the USA, of raising pigs and poultry in adjacent sheds with the same staff,” a practice he calls “unsound.” “Within the swine population, we now have a mammalian-adapted virus that is extremely promiscuous,” explained another molecular virologist at the time, referring to the virus’s proclivity to continue to snatch up genes from human flu viruses. “We could end up with a dangerous virus.” This may indeed be what we are now facing.
Within months of the 1998 emergence, the virus showed up in Texas, Minnesota, and Iowa. Within a year, it had spread across the United States. This rapid dissemination across the country has been blamed on long-distance live animal transport. Full Story
* * *
In my defense of pigs, and all animals, and to show a brief look at factory farming, I’v included the following two videos. The first shows the conditions that factory farmed pigs are forced to endure. The second video, from Farm Sanctuary, shows a diametrical look: pigs at play.
Undercover Pig Farm Investigation
Farm Sanctuary Piglets at Play