Thursday, February 26, 2009

Pigs have ebola but the gov't says it's ok to eat them.

Holy crap. Bro #5 called to my attention a very important issue in the local animal agriculture scene, specifically the pork industry. It's been such a huge deal, it's in the New York Times.

There is an outbreak of the Ebola virus in pigs in Bulacan while 4 particular pigs have been confirmed to have it. Bro #5 saw on the news some footage of these poor pigs eating what appears to be sewage. Good grief, no wonder these pigs are infected, they literally eat shit.

According to the NY Times, a piggery farmer actually caught the virus 6 months ago but this particular strain (the Ebola-Reston) is not known to be dangerous to humans.To risk sounding insensitive, if this is the same farmer who reared these ebola-pigs, don't you think he would've deserved to be infected? You reap what you sow.

So this strain isn't dangerous to us, but you never know how viruses can mutate to hurt us. FYI according to Wikipedia, some serious symptoms of the virus that is dangerous to humans include diarrhea, bloody stool, bloody vomit, hemorrhage, hypotension, and organ damage, among others. "On occasion, internal and external hemorrhage from orifices such as the nose and mouth may occur... Ebola virus can affect levels of white blood cells and platelets, disrupting clotting."

WTF. ABS CBN says,
"Unlike monkeys, pigs are farmed for food and far more people are exposed to them, which puts them at risk of getting infected if the epidemic in pigs is not under control." It was in monkeys that the first Ebola-Reston virus strain was found.

Okay, so these pigs have the Ebola virus, and so do the pigs in other Asian countries (according to this article). The government says it's still okay to eat them though. Just, you know, don't buy a pig that died from Ebola (if you can pick the pig out of ground pork or the chicharon). And, make sure you cook it til it's no longer pink.

Of course this is (relatively) good news to the carnivores that can afford to shop at regular groceries. Two-thirds of this country is poor and can only afford to [a] buy meat from the palengke or wet markets (where raw meat is displayed in 30 deg C weather all day, plus all the flies!) or [b] rear their own pigs in their backyards in gestation crate-sized prisons. Let's not forget, a huge part of Philippine food culture includes street food.

These are the government's efforts, according to this article:
  • The Bureau of Animal Industry (BAI) is set to conduct a Luzon-wide surveillance and improve vaccine coverage against common pig diseases with high morbidity and mortality to reduce outbreaks in the swine population.
  • The Department of Agriculture (DA) will enhance bio-security measures to prevent and contain any future outbreaks as the government’s second line of defense to the spread of the virus.
  • The DA and the Department of Health emphasized the need for all animal handlers in commercial and backyard farms to practice safe farming and biosecurity measures.
  • The Occupational Safety and Health Center of the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) will come up with guidelines to ensure the occupational safety of all animal handlers as well as other recommendations on the proper use of personal protective equipment.
  • The government is working to prevent the entry of “double dead” meat into the market.
  • BAI has already enhanced their pig movement and shipment control, and increased strategically located quarantine checkpoints to prevent transport of sick pigs.
  • The National Meat Inspection Service (NMIS) has also tightened its control and is working closely with local governments to curb this unsafe practice.
Wow. Why not... go vegetarian and save EVERYONE (both human and non-human animals) a lot of heartache? You can't get Ebola, mad cow disease, and bird flu from vegetables, that's for sure.

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