Apr 23, 2015

Highly Pathogenic Avian Virus Is Evolution in Action, and a Warning

A state of emergency exists in Minnesota; poultry
feed trucks, poultry load-out trailers, and emergency
operation equipment used for highly pathogenic
avian influenza response are empowered to
ignore load requirements (March 11, 2015
Emergency Executive Order 15-06)
Humans at Low Risk of Infection and Illness from this H5N2 Virus Strain

"The United States Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) has confirmed the presence of highly pathogenic (contagious to animals) H5N2 avian influenza (HPAI) at a commercial laying facility in Osceola County, Iowa. The facility has 5.3 million hens and is the second confirmed case in the state," notes an April 20, 2015 press release from the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship (IDALS).

The spread of H5N2 avian virus is much worse, and the spread of pathogens by Big Ag was predicted repeatedly.

One Iowa farm killed five million chickens two days ago to try help halt the disease (National Public Radio).

Today, the Wisconsin State Journal's piece on the fifth Wisconsin outbreak (in which we will not find the words "industrial" and "CAFO" [concentrated/confined animal feeding operations] and "factory farms") notes 100,000s of poultry have been killed to contain the spread of the H5N2 virus, with 100,000s more planned to be killed.

"The highly pathogenic H5N2 bird flu has touched down in 16 states, particularly in Minnesota and Iowa where, respectively, more than 2.5 million turkeys and 3.8 million egg-laying hens have been lost to the virus," says yesterday's Minneapolis Star-Tribune [though the Star-Tribune (and everyone else) can not keep up the with the eradication of chickens and turkeys in this devastating outbreak].

Minnesota is the leading state producer of turkeys in the nation.

"[T]oday’s dysfunctional industrial, corporately-controlled" food systems (Ikerd, 2104) are unsustainable, and pathogens are one big reason why, notes Dr. John Ikerd. We have been warned; in fact, the CDC notes, we have been warned since 1959.

CDC Working on Vaccine

The CDC is working on a preventative vaccine for human beings though this strain has a low infection potential for human beings, the CDC says. This is an evolution thing [viruses mutate], a scientific fact on which the CDC can not afford to "punt" like Scott Walker said two months ago, displaying a dangerous level of ignorance for the governor of the state with "the second-largest U.S. incident since the bird flu started spreading earlier this year" (Minneapolis Star-Tribune).

Media Blackout

Media outlets are seemingly blacking out the words CAFO and industrial factory farming though this dangerous model of packing poultry together is a breeding ground for H5N2 and other virus strains.

"Fifteen new avian flu outbreaks were reported today, 13 in Minnesota turkeys and 2 in Wisconsin. The Wisconsin outbreaks were in chickens at a commercial egg farm and at a commercial turkey farm. Outbreaks have now been detected in five Wisconsin counties," notes the University of Minnesota Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy (Roos and Schnirring).

Viruses Mix

Viruses mix among species and the results can be catastrophic, and the Big Ag-CAFO model used by pigs confined together creating the perfect vehicle to produce dangerous viruses that then can spread to other species (Mal Contends).

The major source of pathogens from CAFOs comes from animal manure, produced in abundance.

Big Ag calls CAFOs "modern agriculture" and wants more CAFOs, and are willing to spread a lot of money to Midwestern politicians such as Scott Walker (who gratefully accepts), as the H5N2 virus is spreading like wildfire among commercial flocks of turkeys and chickens.

"New technologies have allowed farmers to reduce costs, which mean bigger profits on less land and capital. The current agricultural system rewards larger farms with lower costs, which results in greater profit and more incentive to increase farm size. ... Sources of infection from pathogens include fecal-oral transmission, inhalation, drinking water, or incidental water consumption during recreational water activities. The potential for transfer of pathogens among animals is higher in confinement, as there are more animals in a smaller amount of space," notes the CDC (Hribar, CDC).

Economic Impact

The slaughter of millions of chickens and turkeys is just one of the economic consequences of this type of concentrated farming operation. Other countries such as Japan have in the past placed bans on poultry from Wisconsin and the Midwest. Diseases, such as hoof-and-mouth, among cows in Great Britain contributed greatly to the crippling of that economy.

This H5N2 virus strain is a warning to us about Big Ag's factory model and the vectoring and breeding of dangerous pathogens. Are we listening?

1 comment:

  1. How does this work with Walker calling up the National Guard to help clean up affected CAFOs? As you point out, if you're cramming 100,000+ birds into cramped quarters, you're going to have an outbreak of something at some point. Do CAFOs have to get insurance for something like this? And will/can the Guard bill the CAFOs for their time? Or is that another kind of handout to big ag?