Factory farming and global health

 

Sir, – Industrial animal farming, more commonly known as factory farming, has, according to the UN, caused the majority of infectious diseases in humans in the past decade.

In Russia, scientists have detected the first case of transmission of the H5N8 strain of avian flu to humans and have alerted the World Health Organisation. Scientists isolated the strain’s genetic material from seven workers at a poultry farm in southern Russia. The workers did not suffer any serious health consequences. While the highly contagious strain is lethal for birds, it has never before been reported to have spread to humans.

Humans can get infected with avian and swine influenza viruses, such as bird flu subtypes A(H5N1) and A(H7N9) and swine-flu subtypes such as A(H1N1). The more widely known strain of avian influenza is the H1N1, which is responsible for all the major flu outbreaks, like the 1918 Spanish flu and the 2009 swine-flu outbreak. The H5N8 is a sub-type of the influenza A virus that causes flu-like symptoms in birds and mammals. In recent months, outbreaks of the H5N8 strain have been reported in Russia, Europe, China, the Middle East and north Africa but only ever in poultry – until, that is, this latest news from Russia.

There is a timebomb called climate change with which we are all familiar. There is another, less talked-about timebomb that is ticking just as loudly, factory farming. Yet no government that I know of, anywhere in the world, is listening to it. Why is this? – Yours, etc,

GERRY BOLAND,

Keadue,

Co Roscommon.