Pandemic Prevention: Bird Flu and Emerging Infectious Diseases

this program is brought to you by the vegetarian Society of Hawaii a nonprofit organization dedicated to sharing with the community the many benefits of a vegetarian diet free monthly meetings include vegetarian experts and locally and on the mainland quick and easy cooking demonstrations and helpful and delicious food samples members enjoy an informative portal e-newsletter social activities and discounts at many vegetarian friendly restaurants and health food stores for an application call nine four four eight three four four that's nine four four eight three four four or visit our website at WWE sh org vsh the two greatest threats facing humanity according to the united nations are climate change and emerging infectious disease particularly pandemic influenza the current focus of pandemic discussions and debate understandably centers on what we in the public health community refer to as secondary prevention mediating the impact of the next pandemic an intervention analogous to mammography mammograms don't prevent cancer but if caught early enough for example we may be able to decrease morbidity and mortality and the same with pandemic planning but what of primary prevention the possibility of preventing the emergence of pandemic viruses in the first place like cancer the root cause is likely multifactorial difficult to tease out but a question worth exploring nonetheless and the question I'd like to address here today let's go back a few years 1981 here in the United States Ronald Reagan takes two youths MTV starts broadcasting Indiana Jones and pac-man mania is all the rage in June the CDC released a tiny bulletin 5 Los Angeles it seems were dying with a strange cluster of symptoms from humble beginnings AIDS has since killed 25 million people now the spread certainly of the AIDS virus has been facilitated by promiscuity blood banking IV drug use but where did this virus come from in the first place and of course AIDS is not our only new diseases SARS Ebola mad cow bird flu but from where do emerging diseases emerge well let's go back a bit further much further human beings have been on this earth for millions of years yet throughout most of human evolution there were no epidemic diseases no one ever got the measles because measles didn't exist no one got smallpox no one got the flu not even the common cold until about here 10,000 years ago medical anthropologists have identified three major periods of disease since the beginning of human evolution in the first started just 10,000 years ago with the domestication of animals we brought animals into the barnyard they brought their diseases with them when we domesticated cows and sheep for example we also domesticated their rinderpest virus which turned into human measles now thought of as relatively benign disease over the last 150 years measles has killed 200 million people and in a sense all those deaths can ultimately be traced back just a few hundred generations as a Taming of the first cattle smallpox likely came from camel pox we domesticated pigs and got whooping cough we domesticated chickens and we got typhoid fever and typhoid mary and domesticated ducks and got influenza before the domestication of ducks likely no one ever got the flu leprosy likely came from water buffalo and the common cold from horses how often did wild horses have the opportunity to sneeze into humanity's collective face until they were broken and bridled until then the common cold was presumably only common to them and his people it surprised winning book Guns Germs and Steel professor diamond tried to explain why the diseases of the landing europeans wiped out up to 95 percent of the Native Americans and not the other way around why didn't Native American plagues kill the Europeans well because there were no plagues in his chapter lethal gift of livestock he explains how before the Europeans arrived we had buffalo but no domesticated buffalo so no measles american camels were wiped out in the Pleistocene Ice Age so no smallpox no pigs and no pertussis and the chickens have no typhoid so while people were dying by the millions of killer scourge is in Europe and Asia none were dying with diseases in the so-called new world because there weren't essentially form animals to domesticate there wasn't this spillover of animal disease the next great a period of human disease started just a few hundred years ago with the Industrial Revolution the 18th and 19th centuries leading to an epidemic of the so called diseases of civilization diabetes obesity heart disease cancer etc but by the mid 20th century the age of infectious disease at least was thought to be over we had penicillin we conquered polio eradicated smallpox in fact in 1968 the US Surgeon General declared the war against infectious disease has been won in 1975 the Dean of Yale School of Medicine pronounced that there were no new diseases to be discovered except maybe lung cancer but even Nobel laureates were seduced in the heady optimism of the time one famous virologist wrote in 1962 textbook to write about infectious disease is almost to write about something that's passed into history the most likely forecasts are the future of infectious disease he wrote is that it will be very dull but then something changed after decades of declining infectious disease mortality in the United States the trend has reversed in recent decades this is a graph from the CDC of infectious disease mortality over time in the last 50 years or so and as you can see it starts declining declining declining decline but then around 1975 it started to go back up the number of Americans dying from infectious disease started to go back up starting around 1975 new diseases started to emerge and re-emerge at a rate unheard of in the annals of Medicine more than 30 new diseases in 30 years mostly newly discovered viruses in fact the whole concept of emerging infectious disease has gone from a mere curiosity in the field of medicine now it's an entire discipline really moved to center stage we may soon be facing according to the US since titute of Medicine what they call a catastrophic storm of microbial threats we are now smack dab in the third era of human disease which seems to only start at about 30 years ago medical historians have called this time in which we lived the age of emerging plagues almost all of which come from animals but we domesticated animals 10,000 years ago what has changed in recent decades to bring us to this current situation well we are changing the way animals live take Connecticut for example where in 1975 Lyme disease was first right nice since spread across all 50 states affecting an estimated 100,000 Americans since its emergence Lyme disease is caused by bacteria infest a deer ticks but the primary host is actually not deer but the white-footed Mouse the ticks themselves not quite as cute really but we've been sharing the woods with these fellows forever what changed recently was suburbia the black legged tics live on the white-footed Mouse kept at bay by woodland predators the same developers came in and chopped up America's woodlands into subdivisions scaring away the foxes and bobcats and now we have more mice more ticks and more disease we are changing the way animals live going back a little farther with the big cattle producing nations fighting during the Second World War what Argentina did took advantage of the situation by dramatically expanding its beef industry of the expense of its rainforest there we discovered the deadly human virus or rather it discovered us and the so-called hamburger ization of the rainforest exposed hemorrhagic fever viruses all across the continent subsequently turning to the other side of the world in cutting into Africa's rainforest exposed a number of other hemorrhagic fever viruses including loss of iris Rift Valley fever and of course Ebola now the inroads into Africa's rainforest were logging roads cut by transnational timber corporations hacking deep into the rainforest dragon along a hungry migrant workforce which survived on bush meat wild animals killed for food now this includes upwards of 26 different species of primates including a number of endangered great ape species gorillas chimpanzees who are shot butchered smoked and sold as food now by cannibalizing our fellow primates we may be exposing ourselves to viruses particularly fine-tuned to our own primate physiology in fact recent outbreaks of Ebola for example have been traced to the exposure to the of infected great apes hunted for food now Ebola is one of our deadliest infections but not efficiently spread compared to a virus like HIV the leading theory as to the emergence of the AIDS virus is direct exposure to animal blood and secretions as a result of hunting butchering and the consumption of contaminated bush meat experts believe the most likely scenario is that each fight HIV arose from human song their way into the jungle butchering chimpanzees for their flesh along the way now in many countries in Africa the prevalence of HIV exceeds 25% of the adult population leaving millions of orphan children in its way someone butchered a chimp a few decades ago and now 25 million people are dead but Wildlife has been hunted for thousands of years yes but never before like this with the demand for wildlife meat outstripping local supplies what countries have done is set up these intensive captive production farms cramming wild animals in these cramped filthy cages and then smuggling them around the world this intensive commercial bushmeat trade actually started in the live markets of Asia particularly the Guangdong province of southern province surrounding Hong Kong from which the current bird flu threat arose the civet cat popular commodity in these Chinese animal markets in addition to being raised for their flesh they also produce the most expensive coffee in the world so-called fox dung coffee is produced by feeding coffee beans to captive civets and then you guessed it recovering the partially digested beans from their feces a musk like substance of buttery consistency secreted by the anal glands is said to give this coffee its distinctive flavor one might say this unique drink is good to the last drop this animal was blamed for the SARS epidemic cloning from the medical journal Lancet a culinary choice in South China a culinary choice in South China led to a fatal infection Hong Kong subsequently eight thousand cases of thoris you know a thousand deaths 30 countries six continents maybe they should have just stuck the start box these live animal markets took a class of viruses which in human medicine we had only known for causing the common cold and seemed to turn them into a killer SARS which then spread around the world viruses can escape rainforests and animals live or dead as pets or as meat in 2003 the exotic pet trade brought monkey pox from the jungles of West Africa to Wisconsin bird-smuggling may have actually been what brought West Nile virus to the Western Hemisphere here it hits New York in 99 since spread across the country hundreds of human deaths of cases all perhaps because of a single imported pet bird so we are changing the way animals live contributing to the emergence of these new diseases but you know there's one way we have changed our relationship with animals they're really out shadows all the rest in response to this torrent of emerging and re-emerging infectious diseases the world's three leading authorities got together for a joint consultation the World Health Organization the Food and Agriculture Organization in the United Nations and the World Organization for Animal Health the world's leading veterinary authority got together to uncover the key underlying causes of this age of emerging plays they came up with four four main risks four main themes of risk factors for the emergence and spread of these new diseases yes they talked about the exotic pet trade they talked about bush meat but number one on their list was this increasing demand for animal protein the world over yes we domesticated animals 10,000 years ago but never before like this especially pigs and poultry chickens used to peck around the barnyard but now chickens raised for meat are typically warehouse and sheds containing tens of thousands of herbs about half of the egg-laying hens on this planet are now confined what are called battery cages these small barren wire enclosures extending down long rows and windowless sheds can be up to a million birds on a single farm about half of the pigs on the planet are now again crowded into these intensive confinement operations you know old MacDonald's farm has since been replaced by the new MacDonald's farm these intensive systems represent the most profound alteration of the human animal relationship in ten thousand years and no surprise they are breeding grounds for disease a few snapshots China 2005 the largest pork producing nation suffers none precedented outbreak of an emerging pig pathogen strep suus causing meningitis and deafness and people handling infected pork products hundreds of people infected the deadliest rain on record why well according to the World Health Organization indeed it seems to be these intensive confinement conditions the USDA elaborates all strep suah starts out harmless as natural gut flora but then the immunosuppressive effect of stress due to overcrowding inadequate ventilation causes the bug to go invasive causing infections of the brain blood lungs heart and death starts out harmless turns deadly that's what these kind of conditions seem to be able to do this is not arguably how animals were meant to live pig factories in Malaysia birth the Nipah virus one of the deadliest of human infections a contagious respiratory ailment killing 40 percent of those it infects causing relapse and brain infections propelling it on to the official us list of bioterrorism agents and again according to one of the leaders of the field it seems to be the way in which we now raise these animals so the three eras of human disease can be characterized perhaps as first the diseases of domestication then the diseases of industrialization of finally of land-use and agricultural intensification we took natural herbivores like cows and sheep turned him in the carnivores and cannibals by feeding them slaughterhouse waste blood in the newer and then we took down animals too sick to even walk fed them to people and now you have and cow disease we feed antibiotics to farm animals by the truckload this is the total amount of antimicrobials used for all of human medicine every year now contrast that with the amount we feed to farm animals just to promote growth or prevent disease in such a stressful on hygienic environment millions of pounds a year and now we have these multi drug-resistant bacteria and we as physicians are running out of good antibiotic options scientists at NYU trace the path of some of these superbugs quote-unquote starting for example with the mass feeding of the cipro class of antibiotics to chickens and then we there is a fecal contamination of the carcass at slaughter we buy chicken at the supermarket polluted with fecal material leading to longer and more severe human infections the CDC recently really cinched it they they spend a million dollars over a three-year period doing rectal swabs newly admitted hospital patients this is what they found essentially in they found zero growth of these antibiotic resistant bacteria within the bodies of those that had zero contact with fresher frozen poultry but at least these so-called superbugs aren't effectively transmitted from one person to the other with the seeming propensity of industrial animal agriculture to churn out these novel lethal human pathogens what if these animal factories gave rise to a virus capable of a global pandemic of disease let me put these new animal disease threats in perspective SARS infected thousands of human beings killed hundreds meat-bone fected hundreds killed scores strep suus affected scores killed dozens now AIDS has infected millions but there's only one virus on the planet that can rapidly in fact billions and that's influenza influenza the so called last great plague of humankind is the only known pathogen capable of truly global catastrophe these days unlike many other important diseases like malaria which are largely confined at the equator or a virus like HIV which is only fluid borne the influenza virus is considered the only passed and capable of literally infecting half of humanity within a matter of months now in the 4,500 years that we as a species have had influenza since the first domestication of birds influenza has always been one of our most contagious known diseases but only since the emergence of this highly pathogenic highly disease causing strain h5n1 as the influenza virus also emerged as one of our deadliest h5n1 spreading out of Asia 2004 2005 2006 and continuing to this day has only killed about a hundred and few hundred people and I'm not to minimize each death is a terrible tragedy but in a world in which millions of people continue to die of diseases like AIDS Tuberculosis why is there so much concern about the so called bird flu because it's happened before because the last time a bird flu virus adapted to human beings it triggered the worst plague in human history the influenza pandemic of 1918 modern flu strains tend to spare young healthy adults but the 1918 virus killed people in the of life in 1918 a quarter of all Americans fell ill this is a chart of percent of population died humanity's greatest mass murderer eluded scientists for nearly a century before a mass grave in Alaska was unearthed victims of the pandemic frozen in the permafrost for 80 years traces of virus in her lungs allowed scientists to piece together letter by letter the genetic code of the 1918 virus solving perhaps the greatest medical detective story of all time humanity's greatest killer was bird flu first civilian casualty in the US was September 11th ironically 1918 and then in a single month this was week one week two week three week four and this is 1918 we talked a steam locomotive here scientists at the Imperial College of London ran a simulation to see how a pandemic might spread today in the UK scientists at Los Alamos ran a simulation through their supercomputers to see a pandemic might spread in the day of commercial airline travel here at hits LA in this simulation and in a few weeks the entire country is blanketed in 1918 between 50 and 100 million people lost their lives a similar virus today could kill many many more what started out for millions as muscle aches and a fever ended days or even hours later with many people bleeding from their eyes from their nozzles from their ears into their lungs homeless orphans their parents dead wandered the empty streets one agonised official in the stricken east sent an urgent warning west quote hunt up your woodworkers and set them making coffins then take your street laborers and set them to digging graves this is a clipping from the New York Times at the time victims of plague everywhere great pyres of bodies consumed by the flames many victims strangled in their own bloody fluids their corpses tinged blue from suffocation were said to have been stacked like cordwood outside of mourns as cities ran out of coffins so they dug mass graves that bird flu originating virus killed more people in 25 weeks than AIDS has killed in 25 years no war no plague no famine has ever killed so many people and so short a time as the 1918 pandemic yet in 1918 the mortality rate of this disease was less than 5% this estimate here potentially tens of millions of people dead in the next pandemic is based on that same two to three percent mortality rate what the CDC is now calling a category 5 pandemic around 2 percent mortality around 2 million Americans dying so that's 2 percent currently h5n1 is officially killing over half of its human victims don't even seem to get a coin toss as to whether or not one lives through this disease dr. Robert Webster the world's leading authority on bird flu we go back to 1918 2.5 percent of people died how many people are dying with bird flu 50 percent we've never seen such an event since the time of the plagues up to 60 million Americans come down with the flu every year what if it suddenly turned deadly that's what keeps everyone up at night the possibility however slight that a virus like h5n1 could trigger a human pandemic that'd be like combining one of the most contagious known diseases influenza with one of the deadliest like crossing a disease like Ebola with the common cold where did this virus come from well the current dialog surrounding avian influenza speaks of potential h5n1 pandemic is it for a natural disaster hurricane earthquake over which we couldn't possibly have control the reality though is that the next pandemic maybe more of an unnatural disaster of our own making in poultry bird flu has gone from an exceedingly rare disease to one which now pops up every year the number of outbreaks of highly pathogenic avian influenza in the first few years of this century have already exceeded the total number of outbreaks recorded for the entire 20th century you'll note that these are five year intervals on just the first five months of 2006 we were already up to here without breaks continuing to this day if one looks at the number of birds involved the escalation is even more dramatic at this scale not even a blip until the 1980s bird flu seems to be undergoing evolution in fast forward as one leading flu expert told science we've gone from a few snowflakes to an avalanche and the increase in chicken outbreaks has gone hand in hand with increased transmission to humans a little over 10 years ago essentially no known people not a single person known to get sick directly from bird flu but since h5n1 rose in 1997 for other chicken flu viruses have affected people from Hong Kong to New York City we can add another pink ring for the four cases in England and Wales last year in the Netherlands outbreak there's an evidence from a government investigation of a thousand people infected with symptomatic poultry workers passing the virus on two whopping 59% of household family members human-to-human transmission at a rate of sea no flu so ten years ago a dozen years ago essentially no one was getting infected with bird flu and now there's been over a thousand cases in continents around the world now the Netherlands outbreak 30 million chickens died but only one person one of the attending veterinarians tragically died so the Netherlands virus was good at spreading but not a killing h5n1 is kind of the opposite for h5n1 isn't even good at spreading from birds to people look it's been around ten years over ten years only a handful of people a few hundred people have become infected and currently certainly not good it's spreading from person to person but the human lethality of the strain is ferocious of ten times deadlier than the worst flu virus on record that which triggered the pandemic of 1918 so what the Netherlands outbreak shows us is that this virus can evolve to go directly human to human what each v n1 shows us is that this virus can evolve into an efficient human killer if this trend is allowed to continue our nightmare may one day be realized the worst of both worlds contagious end deadly so to slow down or stop this rapid recent emergence of highly pathogenic flu viruses one must first ask well what triggered this avalanche in the first place what has changed in recent decades to bring this all upon us the emergence of h5n1 has been blamed on free-ranging flocks wild birds but people been keeping chickens over backyards for thousands of years and birds have been migrating for millions bird flu has been around forever what turned bird flu into a killer oh the senior correspondent news hour with Jim Lehrer posed that question to dr. Webster the so called godfather of flu research was there something qualitatively different about this last decade made it possible for this disease to do something has never done before some kind of changing conditions that suddenly lit a match to the tender Webster reply he said farming practices have changed she talks about growing up on a farm but now we put millions of chickens into a chicken factory next door to a pig factory and this virus has the opportunity getting one of these chicken factories and make billions and billions of these mutations continuously and so what we've changed is the way we raise animals and our interaction with us animals then he talks about how the virus is escaping from the factories infecting wild birds he says that's what's changed we've changed the way we raise animals we changed the way we reassembled by the billions the number of chickens we slaughter every day spread wing to wing would wrap more than twice around the world's equator the big shift in the ecology of avian influenza has been the intensification of the global poultry sector the developing world meat and egg consumption has exploded leading to these industrial scale commercial chicken facilities arguably the perfect storm environment for the emergence and spread the so called super strains of influenza in the early 1980s nearly all the chickens in China were raised in tiny backyard outdoor flocks but now there are 63,000 Cay foes in China concentrated animal feeding operations with a few of these so-called factory farms confining 10 million birds on a single farm the World Health Organization blames emergence of h5n1 SARS Nipah virus all these new deadly emerging Asian viruses in part what they call the over consumption of animal products in this intensive animal agriculture the Food and Agriculture Organization the United Nations starts up there seems to be an acceleration of human influenza problems in recent years this is what they mean this from the World Health Organization these are all the new influenza viruses infecting human beings over the last century or so now turn your attention to just 1995 on seems to be kind of snowflakes to an avalanche in people too but well according to the world's leading agriculturally this is expected to largely relate to the intensification of poultry production and possibly pig production as well they elaborate an internal FAO document chicken – chicken spread particularly were assisted by this intensive husbandry conditions causes the virus to shift adapt to a more severe highly pathogenic type of infection intensive production favors the rapid spread of the viruses in the so called hotting up of the virus from low pathogenicity to highly pathogenic types factory farms it seems can be thought of as the incubators for the emergence of highly disease-causing strains of this virus in this diagram here they actually trace the path of a human pandemic starting with increased demand for poultry products and ending up with a virus capable of human to human transmission the United Nations in fact has called on all governments to fight the role of what they call factory farming quoting from a UN press release governments local authorities international agencies need to take a greatly increased role in combating the role of factory farming which combined with these live bird markets provide ideal conditions for the virus to spread and mutate into a more dangerous form let me show you how it works all bird flu viruses start out harmless to both birds and people very important to understand they start out harmless aiming influenza has existed for millions of years as an harmless intestinal virus of aquatic birds like ducks waterborne virus I said well how does an Ducks intestinal bug end up in a human cloth well in people the virus must make us sick in order to spread must make us cloth in order to shoot fires from one person to the next when the viruses natural reservoir aquatic birds like ducks the virus doesn't need to make the Ducks sick in order to spread in fact us in the viruses evolutionary best interest not to make the Ducks sick as dead ducks don't fly very far so the virus silently multiplies in the intestinal lining of the duck secreted out into the pond water is swallowed up by another duck and the cycle continues as it has for millions of years and no one gets hurt but if an infected duck is dragged to a live bird market for example Kramden cage is high enough to spot a virus infected feces on land-based birds terrestrial birds like chickens well then the virus has a problem if the virus finds itself in the gut of a chicken no longer has the luxury of easy water borne spread chickens aren't paddling around in the pond so the virus must mutate or die unfortunately for us mutating is what influenza viruses seem to do best so and its natural reservoir it's been described as being in total evolutionary stasis harmless but when thrown to a new host like land-based birds it quickly starts mutating acquiring mutations to adapt to its new hosts in the open air must resist dehydration for example and it may have to spread to different organs to find a new way to travel the intestines ain't going to work anymore and it may find the lungs and become an airborne pathogen which is bad news for terrestrial mammals such as ourselves goes into chickens as an aquatic virus but may come out as the flu and its new host a more virulent the more violent this virus becomes the quicker may be able to overwhelm the immune system of its new host but if the virus becomes too deadly though it may not spread as form in an outdoor setting at least if the virus kills its host too quickly the animal may be dead before it's a chance to spread to too many others so when nature is kind of a natural limit on how virulent these viruses can get or at least there was until now enter intensive poultry production when the next beak is just instant inches away there may be no limit how nasty these viruses can get evolutionary biologists believe that this is the key to the emergence of hyper virulent predator type viruses like h5n1 disease transmission from immobilized hosts see when you have a situate we're the healthy cannot escape the disease where the virus can knock you flat and still transmit disgust you're so crowded then there may be no stopping rapidly mutating viruses from becoming truly ferocious and this may explain the virus of 1918 rising out of the trenches of World War one there were these crowded troop transports boxcars were labeled 8 horses or 40 men so when this harmless virus found itself in these kind of conditions that turned deadly millions forced together into clamp cramped quarters no escaping a sick comrade this is thought to be where the virus of 1918 gained its virulence from the virus's point of view though these same trench warfare conditions exist today in every industrial chicken shed every industrial egg operation to find crowded stress but by the billions not just millions the industry is slowly waking up to this growing realization that viruses previously innocuous to natural host species have an all probability become more virulent bypasses to these Laurens commercial populations is from an industry a journal starts out harmless turns deadly that's what these conditions may be able to do this is not arguably how animals were meant to live so how does the poultry industry feel about the possibility that its own animal factories may produce a virus capable of killing millions of people around the world well the executive editor of poultry magazine wrote an editorial on just that topic she wrote the prospect of a virulent flute which we have absolutely no resistance is frightening however to me the threat is much greater to the poultry industry I'm not as worried about the u.s. human population dying from bird flu as I am that there will be no chicken to eat this is this is how the apartment of interior puts it domesticated poultry as the necessary stepping stone to create a pandemic strain of influenza now we used to think pigs were an important link in this chain so this probably not a good idea h5n1 found a way it seems not only to kill people directly but seems to look on full-circle reinfecting its natural hosts migratory aquatic species who could potentially fly this factory farm virus to continents around the world now unfortunately for us there's some quirk of evolution the respiratory tract of a chicken seems to bear striking resemblance to our own primate respiratory tract on a molecular level on a virus receptor level so as the virus gets better at infecting killing chickens the virus may be getting better at infecting and killing us viral gist Earl Brown specialists in the evolution of influenza viruses you have to say dr. Brown concluded again this high-intensity chicken wearing one of the perfect environment for the evolution for generating virulent avian flu virus now in contrast there has never been a single recorded emergence of a highly pathogenic flu virus ever from an outdoor chicken flock never once has dangerous deadly virus ever arisen that we know of in chickens kept outside you can breed a deadly virus here it can escape in fact backyard Birds free-ranging flocks even wild birds but that transition from harmless the deadly always seems to happen in these kind of conditions because of the overcrowding remember transmission from a mobilized host because the sheer numbers because of the inadequate ventilation the dankness helps keep the virus alive because of the stress crippling their immune systems because of the filth the virus is in the feces that they're lying in which is decomposing releasing ammonia burning the respiratory tracts predispose them to respiratory infection in the first place and because there may be no sunlight the UV rays and sunlight are quite effective in destroying the influenza virus 30 minutes of direct sunlight completely inactivates h5n1 but it can last for days in the shade and weeks in moist manure so you put all these factors together when you have this kind of perfect storm environment for the emergence and spread of new super strains of influenza but what about biosecurity don't we want all the birds confined indoors away from waterfowl I mean does it matter if these kind of conditions can turn a harmless virus into a deadly virus if the harmless virus can't get inside in the first place well an FAO research report addressed this very question they in their evidence-based analysis they looked at the best data set available a massive survey of flocks in Thailand in which over a million birds were tested for h5n1 in factory farms and backyard flocks and what they expected to find was that backyard flocks would be at higher risk for infection because they're just out there in the open what they found was exactly the opposite they found that backyard flocks are at significantly lower risk of infection compared to commercial scale operations industrial quail and chicken operations were at least four times more likely to become infected than backyard flocks so not only may factory farms be the incubators for the original emergence of high path strains based on the best science available they may also play a role in the spread the subsequent spread of the virus as well in part because of the massive inputs and outputs required for this industrial style of animal agriculture tons of feed and water go in tons of waste comes out tens of thousands of flies buzzing around and these these high volume ventilation fans blowing dust and waste out into the countryside potentially contaminating err soil insects rodents transport industrial-style production can lead to industrial style contamination of the environment researchers at Johns Hopkins University School of Public Health I look back and realized that their conclusions were actually consistent with other high path outbreaks whether in the Netherlands Canada Italy other diseases factory farms consistently at higher risk they concluded them there's no empirical evidence to support this myth that backyard flocks are somehow the crux of the problem and again people been raising birds in their backyards for about four thousand years before this disease erupted out of control another factors the studies have uncovered widespread disregard for biosecurity even in developed countries which claim to have the best buy of security in the world according to North Carolina University poultry health management hi Miele Security's still wishful thinking in many areas of intensive poultry production a bird flu outbreak in Virginia in 2002 led to the deaths of four million birds found its way inside 200 factory farms highlighting just how you know wishful the thinking is that industrial poultry populations are somehow completely protected against this kind of infection based on the rapid spread of avian influenza in Virginia recently USDA poultry viral just conclude the obvious that biosecurity on many farms is simply inadequate investigators from the University of Maryland surveyed chicken facilities throughout the delaware maryland virginia peninsula perhaps the most concentrated density of chickens in the world and concluded that US chicken flocks constantly at risk for infection triggered by these poor biosecurity practices even if the industry had perfect compliance with these guidelines even if everyone going in and out stepped an antiseptic foot bath scrub their boots wash their hands even with perfect compliance it likely would not be enough we now know that h5n1 can be carried by flies you cannot keep flies out of a poultry shed see h5n1 is a biosafety level 3 plus pathogen that means in a laboratory setting this virus must only be handled in unique high containment buildings specially engineered with airlocks double-door access shower in shower out of floors walls ceiling sealed waterproof all electric outlets phone cords cocked collared sealed to prevent any air leaks all surfaces decontaminated daily all solid waste incinerated that are supposed to handle this virus that's biosecurity in contrast to this the global industrial poultry industry seems to be breeding viruses like h5n1 and essentially biosafety level zero so the poultry industry may not only be playing with fire with no way to put it out there may be Fanning the flames and firewalls to contain this virus do not yet exist unfortunately leading USDA poultry virologist told an international gathering of bird flu scientists unfortunately this level biosecurity just doesn't exist in the United States and doubts really it exists anywhere in the world and according to emeritus poultry professor author of handbook on livestock diseases standards of biosecurity may actually be in decline in an attempt for the industry to cut costs now biosecurity measures is there currently practiced are certainly better nothing but may not be something we want to stake the lives of millions of people upon for the sake of Cheaper chicken pandemic caused by h5n1 or some comparable future bird flu virus has the capacity to trigger one of the greatest catastrophes of all time so to decrease the risk of generate increasing ly dangerous bird flu viruses Global poultry industry must reverse course away from greater intensification by for example here in the annals of New York Academy of Sciences we're placing these large industrial units with smaller farms with lower stocking densities of animals which could potentially result in less stress less disease susceptibility less intense infectious contents and lower infectious loads across the board in 2007 the Journal of the American Public Health Association published in editorial and that went beyond just calling for D intensification of the poultry industry they questioned the prudence of raising so many chickens in the first place in their editorial chickens come home to roost it is curious that changing the way humans treat animals most basically ceasing to eat them or the very less radically limiting the quantity of them that is eaten is largely off the radar the prudence of this measure certainly grows with our increasing understanding of the role that these operations play in emerging infectious disease I'm often asked how the industry responds to this kind of sentiment from the scientific community well last summer the United Nations released yet another report on the global health risks of intensive animal agriculture let me show you that how US agribusiness responded to this report feedstuffs is America's leading agribusiness publication in an editorial responded this way to the FAO research report FAO claims to use scientists to generate its reports but I wonder if those scientists don't resemble a bearded guy living in a cave in Pakistan who wants the US on its knees all too typical of the kind of you're with us or against us industry attitude unfortunately now this is an extreme example there are those within industry who can take a step back and look at the longer term view avian health expert in longtime industry inside can Ruud wrote a really candid article and poultry digest called poultry reality-check needed drying on his 37 years experience from within the poultry industry he concluded with these prophetic words he said now is the time to decide we can go on with business as usual charging headlong towards lower costs or we can begin making a prudent moves necessary to restore a balance between economics and long-range avian health we can pay now or we can pay later but it should be known and it must be said one way or another we will pay so cutting down our consumption of chickens and fighting the role of factory farming as the United Nations has called for Mandy prevent the emergence of future viruses but h5n1 has already been hatched already and spread and mutated into a more dangerous form and now that it is endemic in poultry populations across two continents eradication is unlikely dr. Michael osterholm is the director of the u.s. Center for infectious disease research policy a associate director with the Department of Homeland Security he tried to describe what an h5n1 pandemic could look like in one of the u.s. leading Public Policy journals called foreign affairs he asked policymakers to consider the devastation of the 2004 tsunami in South Asia he said duplicate the tsunami in every major urban center rural community around the planet simultaneously and in the paralyzing fear and panic of contagion and we begin to get some sense of the potential of pandemic influenza that's what he thinks it could be like a tsunami in every city every town everywhere people drowning in their own bodily fluids or we could imagine Katrina imagine every city New Orleans around the world at the same time all perhaps because people insisted on eating cheaper chicken the next pandemic maybe more of an unnatural disaster of our own making a pandemic of even moderate impact may result in a single biggest human disaster ever far greater than AIDS 9/11 all the Wars of the 20th century and the tsunami combined has the potential to redirect world history as the Black Death redirected European history in the 14th century hopefully the direction world history will take is away from raising birds by the billions under intensive confinement so as to potentially lower a risk of us ever being in this precarious place ever again my intention on today was just to focus on primary prevention getting to the root cause but with the unprecedented spread of this truly unprecedented virus it is important that everyone be prepared for the next influenza pandemic so let me just throw out some resources the CDC has set up an excellent pandemic preparedness website pandemic flu dot-gov if you click across here you will find pandemic preparedness checklist for businesses schools communities face base faith-based groups all the way down to individual and family preparation which really focuses on getting everyone right now to stockpile weeks of essential supplies to shelter in place during a pandemic isolating ourselves and our families in our homes until the danger passes the US Department of Homeland Security is now using as a key planning assumption that the u.s. population may be directed to remain in their homes under self quarantine for up to 90 days per wave of the pandemic to support social distancing kind of like a snow emergency where you just told to stay inside don't go out and let's emergency but instead of lasting a day or two last weeks or even months everyone ready to stay in their homes for three months if we have to go out to the corner store during a pandemic to buy toilet paper or something we may be bringing back our family more of them just groceries this is important topic I wrote three have six chapters I'm preparing for and surviving the next pandemic in my book on the subject all the proceeds I received from the sale book go to charity to address the problem and the entire contents of the book is now available free full-text online at bird flu book dot org the goal is to be prepared not scared this presentation by design given the time constraints is an oversimplification of a serious public health issue so I encourage people to go to the website learn more about the topic all the citations are hyperlinked clickable all 3168 of them this is a lay publication for those interested in the technical science the underlying evolutionary biological theory allow me to refer you to an invited review that I wrote for the last issue of critical reviews of microbiology anyone interested in a reprint copy be happy to send you one if you just email me at em GRE ger at humane society dot org let me end with a quote from the World Health Organization the bottom line the bottom line is that humans have to think about how they treat their animals how they form them how they market them basically the whole relationship between the animal kingdom the human kingdom is coming under stress in this age of emerging plagues we now have billions of feathered and curly tailed test tubes from viruses to incubate and mutate within billions more spins at pandemic roulette along with human culpability though comes hope if changes in human behavior can cause new plagues well then changes in human behavior may prevent them in the future thank you this program is brought to you by the vegetarian Society of Hawaii a nonprofit organization dedicated to sharing with the community the many benefits of a vegetarian diet three monthly meetings include vegetarian experts found locally and on the mainland quick and easy cooking demonstrations and healthful and delicious food samples members enjoy an informative quarterly newsletter social activities and discounts at many vegetarian friendly restaurants and own food stores for an application call nine four four eight three four 4 X nine four four eight three four four or visit our website at WWE h org v sh you


  1. Michael Greger was over weight back then 🙂

  2. Vegetarian point of view/propaganda. Not a well rounded science lecture

  3. this is an excellent clear presentation,… thank you

  4. solutions: can any one share research on…??? readily available natural anti viral plants, … besides go on a migratory life style???…

  5. great speaker and very informative! everyone should see this video!

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