Making Sense of Swine Flu
1st April, 2009
In the last few years the Ecologist has written extensively on the flu – both the garden variety that strikes us on an annual basis and the wider threat of avian influenza, H5N1.
The latest H1N1 virus is somewhat more worrying than H5N1 because of the greater ease with which swine viruses can be passed from pig to human, and thereafter from human to human. Pigs are very efficient vectors for human disease, as the recent Ecologist Film Unit documentary short, Sick as a Pig, which details the rise of antibiotic resistant bacteria amongst pig farmers, details shows so graphically. (The accompanying article is here.)
Understanding this, however, does not tackle the actual root of the problem.
The Ecologist’s position on the current swine flu outbreak is much as it was when the first reports of avian influenza surfaced in 2006 (see here). Until government and public health officials look at the entire picture of the aetiology of the disease they will not be able to contain this outbreak, or prevent similar, future outbreaks.
It is disappointing that, so far, very little of the press coverage has focused on the role of factory farming...
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