Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Just like Hurricane Katrina...

It's a sad fact of living in the USA that most government officials and politicians will not do anything to protect our health and welfare until AFTER a disaster has struck or a State of Emergency declared...

Take hurricane Katrina for one example -- the levies had to break before ANYTHING would be done about them. Over 1,000 people had to die to prove a point, the point being the levies were underbuilt for that area. And the health, safety and welfare of tens of thousands of people were at risk for a very long time, blissfully unaware of the danger.

The polititians knew BEFORE it happened. The studies had been done, the reports filed, even the media reported what "could happen" if something wasn't done. A National Geographic article a few years BEFORE it happened painted a picture in striking detail -- frighteningly similar to what actually happened in the aftermath.

Just like hurricane Katrina, another "disaster about to happen" is nearing it's "race against the clock" as the hog factory moves forward with construction.

And just like Katrina, the government is well aware of the scientific studies and reports that have been completed. In fact, they funded a large amount of them.

They know the dangers to public health these factories represent:

- Salmonella Outbreaks Linked to Produce on the Rise
- Antimicrobial Resistance of Enterococcus Species Isolated from Produce
- Development of New Tools to Control the Swine Production-related Emerging Threats to Public Health
- Fate of Salmonella enterica Serovar Typhimurium on Carrots and Radishes Grown in Fields Treated with Contaminated Manure Composts or Irrigation Water
- Occurrence and Diversity of Tetracycline Resistance Genes in Lagoons and Groundwater Underlying Two Swine Production Facilities
- Researchers Discuss Health Implications of Meat Production and Consumption
- Prevalence and Antimicrobial Resistance of Enterococcus Species Isolated from Retail Meats

And even this one regarding a food poisoning outbreak after a fair...

- An Outbreak of Escherichia coli O157 Infection Following Exposure to a Contaminated Building

Which concludes: "Absence of evidence implicating specific food or beverage sources and the recovery of E coli O157 from the rafters suggest that airborne dispersion of bacteria contributed to the contamination. Because E coli O157 can survive in the environment for more than 10 months, humans may be at risk of infection long after an environment is initially contaminated."

They know the dangers to air, water, soil and wildlife:

- Teschoviruses as Indicators of Porcine Fecal Contamination of Surface Water
- Field-Scale Evaluation of Phosphorus Leaching in Acid Sandy Soils Receiving Swine Waste
- Preliminary Investigation of Air Bubbling and Dietary Sulfur Reduction to Mitigate Hydrogen Sulfide and Odor from Swine Waste
- Enteric Viruses of Humans and Animals in Aquatic Environments
- Manure -- Can it cause harm to wildlife/environment through soil?

And just like Katrina, several major press articles and books have already been written about what "could happen" when you mix such a large concentration of swine into a large population of birds into a large concentration of people:

- Democracy Now! Radio - Mike Davis on The Monster at Our Door: The Global Threat of Avian Flu
- Pork Production is Linked to the Risk of Flu Epidemics and Infections
- Are Swine Workers in the United States at Increased Risk of Infection with Zoonotic Influenza Virus?
- USA Government's
"Field Manual For Wild Diseases - chapter 22/avian flu
- Avian Flu And Dangers to Migratory Birds (.pdf)
- Influenza viruses in birds, humans, swine
- History of Spanish Flu
- More Waters Test Positive for Drugs
- Vetrinary Tutorial: Standard Avian Viruses Found in Pigs
- Building Sewerless Cities
- Overview of Avian Influenza
- Molecular Basis for the Generation in Pigs of Influenza A Viruses with Pandemic Potential

Important Quote: "Human infections with swine influenza viruses have been documented in the U.S. at least 9 times since 1974, including fatal infections, as well as in Europe and in New Zealand. A recent study of swine farm families in Wisconsin documented statistically significant levels of exposure to swine influenza viruses, compared to an urban control population from Milwaukee."

Another important quote: "H5N1 is able to infect people because it is able to cross the species-barrier. In human populations, where domestic pigs and wild and domestic birds live in close proximity with people, the mingling and exchange of human and animal viruses can more easily occur."

And from the U.S. Agricultural Department - Animal Production and Health Division Report/Epidemiology Section: "Swine appear to be important in the epidemiology of
infection of turkeys with swine influenza virus when they are in close proximity. Other mammals do not appear to be involved in the epidemiology of HPAI. The infection of humans with an H5 avian influenza virus in Hong Hong in 1997 has resulted in a reconsideration of the role of the avian species in the epidemiology of human influenza."

And just like hurricane Katrina, the National Geographic has done an interesting documentary. See "Need more worries? Watch this..."

And so, here in a tiny community nestled on the boarders of Jasper and Polaski Counties, the ticking time bomb shall begin soon.

But polititians and Government officials are standing back with their "wait-and-see" shades on. How much of our environment will have to be destroyed before they take action? How much of our fresh water, air and soil will have to be ruined? How many wild animals and birds will have to die first? How many people will have to be harmed first? How many will have to die first?

If this past decade is anything to go by ...anywhere from 1,000 to 3,000+ people will have to die first, before they actually do anything. By the time they finish cleaning up the mess, who knows how many... ?

That's a little disconcerting when you really think about it.

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