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Avian ‘bird flu’ outbreak strikes dairy farms across the US

The current ‘bird flu’ outbreak has spread to cows on dairy farms across the US. Here’s how factory farm conditions could play a role.

The Type A H5N1 virus, commonly known as ‘avian flu’ or ‘bird flu’, has spread from chicken and hen farms to dairy facilities across the US. The latest developments have left dairy consumers wondering whether their morning glasses of milk are safe to consume – and whether humans could be infected next.

Eight US states have reported dairy farm outbreaks: New Mexico, Texas, Kansas, Idaho, Michigan, Ohio, North Carolina, and South Carolina. A Texas dairy farm worker was also diagnosed with the virus.

Experts have recorded ‘high concentrations of virus’ in dairy products, leading many to suspect that milking machinery may play a role in its spread. Scientists have further noted that if the virus continues to evolve – as pathogens tend to – more humans could become infected. It’s only a matter of time before this virus could spread to the UK!

The rise of zoonoses

Zoonotic diseases – or zoonoses – are diseases that spread from animals to humans, often through blood, excrement, and bodily fluids.

COVID-19, SARS (Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome), MERS, Ebola, and H1N1 (swine flu) are all confirmed or suspected to have originated in animals. In fact, according to the World Health Organisation, 75% of new or emerging infectious diseases have zoonotic origins.

Factory farms – where pigs, chickens, cows, and other animals are held in overcrowded, unsanitary conditions – are primed for the spread of such diseases. Stress weakens animals’ immune systems, further accelerating outbreaks.

Animal Equality’s investigative releases have evidenced unsanitary conditions in factory farms and slaughterhouses around the world. Concerning findings include:

  • Employees cutting animals’ bodies on dirty facility floors
  • Heads, legs and other remains of dead piglets scattered around a pig farm
  • Faeces-covered floors and feeding troughs
  • Chickens forced to grow far too big, far too quickly, lying face-down on urine-soaked floors
  • Frozen calves left to die in their diarrhea
  • Dead hens decaying at the bottom of their cages
  • Workers violently forcing sticks into buffaloes’ genitals, causing bleeding wounds
  • Pigs suffering from prolapsed uteruses, hernias, and pus-filled wounds
  • Dead ducks and geese left on foie gras farm floors
  • Cannibalism among pigs
  • Inexperienced dairy farm workers illegally administering Oxytocin, a hormone used to stimulate milk production
  • Pigs kept amidst blood, feces and organs
  • Workers rinsing dirty meat with buckets of water
  • Tankers used to carry and offload dead fish on land returning to collect more dead fish from the sea, without any cleaning or biosecurity measures in place

Preventing the next pandemic

While crowded, unsanitary factory farms allow zoonoses to spread, you could help prevent the next outbreak, and spare thousands of animals from a lifetime of suffering in the process. By signing Animal Equality’s petition, you can join us in urging the Government to hold farms and corporations responsible for their actions and hold them to account. Together, we can alleviate some of the most deplorable conditions that farmed animals endure and mitigate the risk of deadly diseases that could potentially emerge as a result.

Demand the Government holds animal abusers accountable – SIGN NOW!

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