I wanted to wait a little while for things to pan out before I wrote about the latest worldwide pandemic, the swine flu. So far in the United States, 286 people in 36 states have been affected by this new influenza strain, which originated with pigs farmed in Mexico. However, despite the fact that the World Health Organization raised the pandemic alert to a level 5 alert on a scale of six, some Mexican officials in charge of dealing with the flu have begun to say that things might be slowing down. Apparently, even though people have been panicking and even Vice President Joe Biden made the statement that he didn’t want his family taking closed-in public transportation or travelling, the flu is not as bad as most people perceive it to be. Most US cases have been mild, and if the WHO does happen to raise the alert level to a 6, “that would be a statement about the geographic spread of the virus, not its severity.” That’s not to say people shouldn’t take certain measures to ensure their health, like eating foods that boost your immune system and washing your hands, but don’t freak out.
What is unfortunate is that much of the media is still dancing around the fact that the reason this virus is threatening us is because of humanity’s desire to eat animals. Factory farming, where animals are bunched so closely together with little circulation of air and with little to no decent sanitation, is just a breeding ground for dangerous diseases such as the swine flu. It is unlikely that we would see these viruses arise in a world where people depended on a herbivorous diet.
I was quite happy to see that The Times confronted this fact in a recent article:
…once humans invented farming and learned to cultivate animals, we made a bad situation much worse. All at once, chickens, ducks and pigs – which never had much to do with one another – began living cheek to jowl in high numbers and often unsanitary conditions. Farm families and people working in live markets then began mingling with the critters. That’s a pathogenic speed blender, and the viruses have taken full advantage of it.
If people were seriously concerned with how to diminish viruses and diseases such as the swine and avian flu, they must first realize that factory farming is the main culprit. Only by removing factory farming will we be able to ensure more healthy lives to all the people in this world.