Saturday, April 4th, 2020

Don’t Blame Swine for the Flu

Published on September 11, 2009 by   ·   16 Comments Pin It
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Gorgeous Girlie Girl Army Boy Sgt, Ari Solomon (creator of our absolute favorite green, vegan candle line A Scent of Scandal ) blogs his sexy little heart out about the creepy fact that many diseases come directly from factory farming and consuming animal products.   He’s not just hypothesizing, homeboy backs it up.   Read on;

Since the beginning of this year, everyone’s been abuzz about the swine flu or H1N1 flu. But swine flu has actually been around for quite some time. In fact, scientists have been following this virus for almost 100 years. Until recently, swine flu had only been limited to one strain, H1N1. But in 1997, new strains started showing up. There was H3N2, H1N2, and H4N6. I’m not a doctor, so I’m not going even going to try and explain what those different strains are. The point is that the virus started mutating.

Swine flu is a disease that started in pigs. But since non-human mammals are so physiologically similar to humans, diseases have been known to jump species. One of the most infamous of such “jumps” occurred in 1918, when a global pandemic of an originally avian strain of H1N1 killed between 50-100 million people, more than all the casualties of World War I, which ended that same year. Indeed, some researchers believe the 1918 strain may have originated from the Army base of Fort Riley, Kansas, where chickens and pigs bred for food may have infected soldiers, who, in turn became carriers of the disease. Others believe the virus jumped directly from birds. What is certain, however, is that human efforts at domesticating and breeding farmed animals have dramatically increased H1N1’s occurrence and resilience.

Swine flu though is only one example of deadly illnesses that have broken the species barrier: Tuberculosis actually originated in bison. The Bubonic plague was spread by rats. Salmonella lives in chickens. The Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) is now known to be a mutation of the Simeon Immunodeficiency Virus (SIV), which occurs in chimpanzees. While evolution has allowed many animal species to become carriers of various pathogens without themselves becoming sickened, strains can become deadly when jumping to humans, who have no such immunity.

In its most recent recurrence, swine flu has already infected over 1 million Americans and scientists fear that half the country’s population– 150 million– may be sickened over the next year. What’s particularly frightening about this is that doctors are still struggling to understand why, in addition to the very young, old, and immune-compromised individuals, unusually large numbers of healthy adults aged 20-40’s are dying from it. This pandemic is sure to cost billions in healthcare treatment, and thousands, if not millions of lives across the world.

The hard truth, and one that is rarely discussed in the news (though I have to give props to CNN’s Jane Velez Mitchell), is that this latest outbreak of swine flu began on a factory farm in Mexico. If you’ve never been to a pig factory farm, imagine football field-sized hangars filled with hundreds of thousands of pigs living their entire lives in their own excrement and urine in concrete pens so tight they’re unable to even turn around. There is no sunlight or fresh air. In some facilities, pigs live their whole lives in total darkness. Most go insane.   (EDITOR’S NOTE: It is scientific fact that pigs have the EMOTIONAL INTELLIGENCE OF A 6 YEAR OLD HUMAN BEING. They are leaps and bounds smarter than dogs.)   Factory farmers attempt to minimize “damage” by taking baby piglets and having their teeth cut off (without anesthesia) to prevent them from later goring other terrified and crazed animals as they frantically attack each other from stress and terror. This is the manufacturing process of not just pork and bacon, but also new and deadly diseases.

Because these horrendous living conditions cause pigs to have destroyed immune systems, they are more susceptible to illness. And the cramming of hundreds of thousands of animals together ensures that disease spreads like wildfire. This is well known by factory farmers. That is why over 70% of the antibiotics we produce in the US are used on farm animals. Cows, pigs, chickens, turkeys and pretty much anything else that comes from a factory farm is doused with these powerful meds to keep them from getting sick.

Now, we all know that doctors tell us to be very cautious with antibiotics. Don’t take them unless it’s absolutely necessary, make sure to finish the entire dosage, etc. This is because bacteria can mutate. Scientists have been worried for years that super-strains of diseases resistant to our medications could emerge. Tuberculosis has already accomplished this task, showing up in three deadly forms that antibiotics can’t touch.

The CDC would have us take solace in a new swine flu vaccine that they say is safe. However, during the last swine flu outbreak in 1976, vaccines were responsible for thousands getting sick, some developing Guillian-Barre, a neuromuscular disorder.

But the real scary thought is this: how long before other deadly bacteria become antibiotic-resistant due to mass antibiotic dosing of farm animals, and jump? What if an airborne virus far deadlier than the swine flu breaks the species barrier? And, what are the ramifications of humans slowly ingesting unknown numbers of antibiotics though the animal flesh we eat?

Factory farming is the ensured breeding ground for these yet-to-be-encountered diseases. Perhaps it’s nature’s way of karmically kicking us in the ass for the way we treat animals. Perhaps it’s just human arrogance. But with no end in sight for factory farming we should all take pause.

It’s time for us to stand up to these heinous and dangerous practices. If you’re not going to do it for the animals, do it for your own health and the health of millions. Leave meat off your plate. Why support an industry so reckless and heartless? Because you like the way animals taste? Is it really worth it?

You don’t hear of humans getting deadly Panama disease… that’s because it only affects bananas. Maize Dwarf Mosaic virus has been known to wreak havoc… in corn. Plant diseases don’t jump to us because plants are nothing like us. The closer a being is in likeness, the easier it is for a pathogen to mutate. Plants can certainly be carriers for disease– we all remember the recent peanut butter and spinach scares. But these scares should more accurately be described as cross-contamination from animal feces widely thought to be from factory farm runoff or manure. Yes, that’s right: shit. Peanut butter and spinach don’t just naturally sprout E.coli and salmonella.

While swine flu is a pandemic of our own making, we should also have it be a grave warning of things to come. In the interim, there are steps we can all take to protect ourselves and others from the flu: make sure to get plenty of rest, eat a variety of nutritious plant foods that are loaded with vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants, sneeze away from other people and practice the “Dracula sneeze” (into your elbow and not your hands), and, most importantly, wash your hands often. Thirty seconds with soap and water ought to do the trick.

Ari Solomon is the President and co-creator of the celebrated vegan candle line A Scent of Scandal . After graduating from NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts, Ari first worked as an actor in New York and Los Angeles, and later hosted the wildly popular ARI’S HOLLYWOOD UPDATE on Miami’s Y-100FM. Now a prolific activist and writer for animal and human rights, Ari’s letters have appeared in The New York Times, The Los Angeles Times, The Miami Herald, and The Advocate.

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Readers Comments (16)

  1. kimsy says:

    Amazing. I knew that eating animals is wrong, uncalled for, and disgusting, but I never thought about it like this. I am definitely sharing this. Thank you! :)

  2. Jay Kordich says:

    Great article. It’s hard to read about the atrocities perpetrated on farm animals but I must do it to help spread the word about not just the inhumane treatment of animals but the dangerous practices used that can literally kill millions of people. Your statement: (And, what are the ramifications of humans slowly ingesting unknown numbers of antibiotics though the animal flesh we eat?) is what we need to be discussing on National Television, yet it’s like the elephant in the room but nobody’s talking about it. Since I have been a vegetarian for over 62 years, it’s obvious I am an advocate of the vegan lifestyle, but to imagine enlisting millions of people into this lifestyle could literally transform the world. This has been my life’s mission along with of COURSE inspiring others to juice on a daily basis…which by the way CAN and WILL help fight off disease. Thanks for writing a great article. Jay Kordich

  3. Very well put, Ari! Good thing you moved from acting to activism. We all vote with our dollars, so I urge everyone to spread the news about the problem, and the word about the solution – which is more Vegan food options! Tell your friends about all that’s out there, shops, restaurants, and hey – dinner delivery services that supplant the need for animals on your plate. Help other people see the light :)

  4. brook says:

    brilliant! i will send this to everyone i know.

  5. kirby says:

    Ari, your articles for GGA are always well written, well researched and so timely – thank you! The animals thank you, too!

  6. elaine says:

    Fantastic article, though one addition: It’s a GOOD idea to get the flu vaccine. Even a vegan can get sick (!) and some partial immunity can help. Doctors I’ve talked to about this are recommending ALL of the things you mentioned in the final paragraph, in addition to getting the “regular” flu vaccine and if it’s developed in time, the H1N1 vaccine. Even if you have never gotten a flu vaccine before, this might be the year to do so. I realize this is controversial among many, but I think it’s fair to mention it as an additional precaution.

  7. Cathy says:

    Great article Ari! And for the record I will not be getting the vaccine either. Doctors recommend lots of stuff that is not healthy (including eating meat, taking dangerous prescripton drugs, etc) so I would take it with a grain of salt that doctors recommend getting vaccinated. Thank you Ari for this very informtive article.

  8. jenni says:

    It breaks my heart the way these gorgeous, adorable, sweet, fiercely intelligent animals are treated. Thanks for the brilliant yet simple connection between factory farms and disease. People need to wake the hell up and realize that meat production doesn’t just hurt animals – it hurts humans and the planet!

  9. Joan says:

    Another fantastic article Ari !! I will pass along to my friends.

  10. […] some time. In fact, scientists have been following this virus for almost 100 years. Read more on girliegirlarmy.com September 13, 2009 | Animal cruelty related news | No […]

  11. jeremy says:

    Well done Ari. I just hope that humans can get past their “arrogance” to see the truth behind these killers and their horrendous origins.

  12. nicki says:

    Thank you for this article- it sickens me to see the horrendous treatment of these beautiful, intelligent, gentle animals. It only makes sense that these disgusting and inhumane living conditions bleed into other areas such as viruses jumping to humans. Proof yet again that the mistreatment of animals has negative effects on us as well.

  13. Katrina says:

    there’s a bad protein called prion that can kill you if you are a cannibal. bad farming practices made cannibal cows.

  14. Katrina says:

    Oh and does anybody agree with me that there ought to be loads of Public Service Announcements about social etiquette? Like, cough/sneeze into your elbow, wash your hands, give an old person your seat on the subway?

  15. miss twist says:

    Katrina: I could not agree with you more! There should be public service announcements, (LOADS of ’em) about public etiquette. NOBODY has manners anymore and nobody seems to care.
    Don’t even get me started on the ethics of farming practices! Ari, wonderful article, thank you. No meat will be on my plate today.

  16. Stacey says:

    Really great article! Thank you! As a human rase in many cases we cause our own demise when you look back at history. Sometimes nature kicks us in the butt to look at our behavior as humans . If we all lived more ethically and consciouslyy from farming and animal welfare to the environment and I think we would all have less disease. We our not here alone and we all need to treat out animals and fellow humans with more respect and caring!!!




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