Zoonosis

I just read that AIDS killed 1.7 million people last year.  I had no idea it was still that deadly.

Over the years AIDS has killed more than 39 million people.  Ebola got all the headlines last year and it is a horrific and deadly disease.  But since it first appeared in 1976, Ebola’s death toll is measured in the thousands, not millions.  AIDS has been and continues to be far deadlier.

Both AIDS and Ebola are zoonotic diseases–meaning they were introduced into the human population from another species.  Scientists have determined that the first human to contract AIDS acquired it from a chimpanzee in Cameroon in about 1908, likely a hunter with an open wound who butchered an infected chimp and came into contact with its blood. The disease has since spread around the world.

While AIDS and Ebola are probably the most-feared zoonotic diseases, they are not alone.  Rabies, of course, is transmitted from animals to humans.  But so are food-borne illnesses caused by e-coli and Salmonella.  Influenza can also be transmitted from animals to humans, as the recent swine-flu and avian-flu scares attest.

There is always a risk of a new disease entering human populations from animals.  By concentrating animals in unhealthy and unsanitary conditions, and pumping them full of antibiotics to keep them alive and stimulate growth, factory farming increases that risk.  The risk is made even greater by the overuse of antibiotics, leading to the creation of antibiotic-resistant bacteria.

Factory farming may never produce a disease as deadly as AIDS. But we can’t be sure it won’t.  And it’s a risk we don’t need to take.

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20 comments on “Zoonosis

  1. Deb Weyrich-Cody says:

    Hear, hear! Well said!!

    Like

  2. Joanna says:

    Oh yes! And the scandal is that it was forecast for so long. It is amazing it hasn’t been a bigger problem before now. I studied Pharmacology 30 years ago and we knew then that antibiotic resistance was going to become an increasing problem if it was routinely used, both in humans and livestock.

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    • Bill says:

      It’s been interesting to see American fast food companies starting to say they are no longer going to sell chicken raised on antibiotics. But when we look carefully at what they’re doing we see that it is most a public relations move, since they’re still going to sell chicken raised on ionophores. We’re playing with a time bomb, and for no good reason.

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      • Joanna says:

        It is a step in the right direction and shows that there is still power in people’s spending decisions. I hope people continue to think more and more about the food they eat and spend their money more wisely

        Liked by 1 person

  3. nebraskadave says:

    Bill, I’m not learned in any medical things what so ever but even I know that the over use of any kind of remedy will cause it to lose it’s effectiveness. The grand scheme of nature is to combat any foreign outside attacks. It only makes sense that medication would be considered foreign and the body would try to reduce its effectiveness. Unfortunately, I do take some medication for blood pressure but I try to keep it at a minimum. Lord, knows I’m not against doctors or medications but growing old has taught me that I will have some aches and pains that weren’t there in my younger days. It’s normal to catch a cold now and then but the first thing is not to run to the doctor for medication. I try to let my immune system fight it off first and usually that will take care of it. Like every thing else in our culture suffering must have an instant cure so we feel no aches or pains. I’m continually amazed at how many of my friends are on anti depressants. Some that I would never expect. I often wonder just what would happen to the world if for some reason all medication for people would be suddenly cut off. It certainly would be an ugly thought. I only know a couple people in my realm of friends, neighbors, and relatives that don’t take any medication of any kind. It’s kind of sad that we have become a medicated society.

    Have a great zoonosis free day.

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    • Bill says:

      Yes we have. I can’t recall the exact number right now, but the average American is taking a shocking number of pharmaceuticals.

      Due to overuse of wormers on goats, there is no basically no effective wormer left. In just a couple of decades we’ve created a population of parasites that can’t be killed. The same thing is happening now with herbicide-resistant weeds. It’s elementary science, but that doesn’t stand in the way of the desire to make quick money.

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  4. Sue says:

    And my question is—if they are injecting viruses into seeds, what will THAT do??????????
    We need to stop playing with Nature. IT always wins—and sometimes in an ugly way……

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    • Bill says:

      You’re right about Nature. Nature does not like monocultures and does not like concentrated populations of a single species. And Nature always wins.

      Like

  5. shoreacres says:

    There are discussions going on now about genetic modification of mosquitos to combat malaria. If I may quote the old maxim again: just because we can do something, doesn’t mean we should do something. I’m becoming more and more convinced that the “smartest” among us are the biggest threat. They may not dig the old Bible stories, but there’s something faintly familiar about that tower they undertook in Babel.

    This crosses my mind, too. C. difficile is raging through hospitals today. Overcrowded, unsanitary, unhealthy conditions, combined with a population that’s being pumped full of antibiotics, is creating real problems. I can’t tell you how many people I know whose doctors have said to them, “If at all possible, stay out of hospitals.”

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  6. ain't for city gals says:

    This post reminds me of how little I know. Honestly, it is mind boggling!

    Like

    • Bill says:

      My mind is easily boggled when it comes to industrial agriculture. Perhaps what boggles it the most is the fact that so many people don’t see it as a problem.

      Like

    • Bill says:

      Of course I am preaching to the choir here. I’ve been in meetings pitching farmers the idea of hosting CAFO poultry houses. You would think the talk of “biosecurity” would cause antennas to go up, and it does for some–but not most.

      Liked by 1 person

      • avwalters says:

        Initially I was going to jump in with malaria, the single deadliest and most devastating ailment in Africa. Then I saw where you were going. Animal to human disease exposure runs particular risks for humans. This is even more dangerous where animals are crowded together, fed antibiotics to fatten them (and thus raising the levels of antibiotic resistance) and where there are GMO animals, especially transgenics. We’re supposed to be stewards of the planet, but Dr. Frankenstein lived to fear his invention.

        Liked by 1 person

  7. EllaDee says:

    Factory farming makes me bloody angry because if the practices were transparent, visible, answerable to, the perpetrators wouldn’t get away with it. They hide behind walls and regulations that mitigate everything with the word “adequate” which is so vastly and conveniently open to interpretation.
    You can tell someone something and they say they understand but they don’t really and nothing will change until, unless they see with their own eyes the reality of what some fellow humans are knowingly, deliberately doing with the bare minimum duty of care to the ‘product’ and consumer for the simple purpose of making a profit from food that they put in their mouths and their kids.
    The commercial concept of ‘risk averse’ vs domestic are polar opposites.
    The only way for sufficient change to happen is to challenge the profitability of the enterprise, if the factory farmers see a possibility their bottom line will suffer they’ll whinge about it but make a necessary adjustment…
    I’d like to think the situation will not remain as change-on-an-as-needs-catastrophe-by-catastrophe basis, but I wouldn’t be so sure.
    This from the POV of a reasonably conscientious omnivore who knows like the majority she’ll never be able to raise-catch-dispatch what she eats and truly understands the nature of it, so moderates consumption and supports best practice.
    … steps down from soapbox!

    Like

    • Bill says:

      We need more people to step up on the soapbox on things like this.
      Someone once said, it is difficult to make a man understand something when his salary depends upon him not understanding it. Industrial food corporations won’t respond to anything but a loss of profits. The burden of this therefore falls on us consumers, both to vote with our money and to get up on our soapboxes.

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  8. Mother nature has her ways. It’s a lesson we seem to have to learn over and over. Over crowding on this planet, whether we are talking about animals of people, seems to be a surefire recipe for disaster. –Curt

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