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Timely Book On Bird Flu

kdawson posted more than 7 years ago | from the take-care-out-there dept.

174

Lifelongactivist writes, "A new free book about bird flu has been published by Michael Greger, M.D., the US Humane Society's director of public health and animal agriculture. Bird Flu: a Virus of Our Own Hatching (the site contains the entire book text) tells why modern industrialized agricultural methods, including factory farming, antibiotics misuse, and the use of animal refuse as a food source (!) for chickens and other livestock, have led to a staggering increase in the number of 'zoonotic' diseases that can leap from animals to people, and make a bird flu pandemic likely. The book discusses in practical terms what you can do to prevent infection and what to do if you do catch the disease. The book is especially timely given yesterday's news that a new, vaccine-resistant variant of H5N1 has been detected in China."
Update: 10/31 19:44 GMT by KD : Corrected to read "vaccine-resistant."

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174 comments

On remedies... (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16661815)

I don't suppose they recommend eating a bowl of chicken noodle soup, do they?

Re:On remedies...(chicken soup) (2, Interesting)

llib_xoc (667319) | more than 7 years ago | (#16662065)

Actually, there is a very similar home treatment recommended here: http://www.fluwikie.com/uploads/Consequences/NewGu ideOct7b.pdf [fluwikie.com] It's called Oral Rehydration Therapy, and I'm getting together the ingredients this week.

Another preparation that's recommended is that you have a surgical face mask to avoid breathing in the virus, and to avoid spreading it if you're infected but not showing symtoms. Here's a reference: http://www.cdc.gov/flu/professionals/infectioncont rol/maskguidance.htm [cdc.gov]

I've heard several speakers on this topic recently, including Dr. Michael Osterholm of Univ. of Minn., and it's just a matter of time before avian flu, specifically H5N1, comes to your town (and everybody's). Several city administrations that I'm familiar with (including Plymouth and Minneapolis, MN, and Alameda, CA) are making specific preparations, mainly around "how do we operate the city when 30-40% of our staff are out sick themselves or busy at home caring for their family members". Alameda is preparing centers to distribute vaccine, once one is available.

Here's an interview with Dr. Osterholm: http://effectmeasure.blogspot.com/2005/06/osterhol m-were-screwed.html [blogspot.com]

Re:On remedies...(chicken soup) (1)

kfg (145172) | more than 7 years ago | (#16662301)

Another preparation that's recommended is that you have a surgical face mask to avoid breathing in the virus

The flu virus is not airborne; it is contact spread. The most common sources of infection are doorknobs and money, but the most common source of infection by the Avian Flu is from handling birds. Wear gloves.

Wearing a surgical mask is not to prevent you from catching the flu virus, it is to prevent you from spreading it when you sneeze on people/things, putting them into contact with your infected, precious bodily fluids.

KFG

Re:On remedies...(chicken soup) (1)

FuzzyBad-Mofo (184327) | more than 7 years ago | (#16662517)

..it is to prevent you from spreading it when you sneeze on people/things, putting them into contact with your infected, precious bodily fluids.

I hear that restricting one's liquid intake to grain alcohol and rainwater works wonders for avian flu..

Re:On remedies...(chicken soup) (1)

Mr. Slippery (47854) | more than 7 years ago | (#16663209)

Wearing a surgical mask is not to prevent you from catching the flu virus, it is to prevent you from spreading it when you sneeze on people/things

Wearing such masks while sick is common behavior in Japan, and I think it's a darned good idea.

Re:On remedies...(chicken soup) (1)

NerveGas (168686) | more than 7 years ago | (#16663955)

"The flu virus is not airborne; it is contact spread."



Yes, but it's a respiratory virus. That means that the afflicted person needs to get the virus out through the mouth or nasal passages - like rubbing their noses, or sneezing. It also means that you have to get some on you, and then get it into your respiratory tract - like rubbing your eyes or nose, chewing your nails, etc.. Wearing a mask helps prevent the spread on both ends, even if it just keeps people from sneezing on you, and keeps you from picking your nose.

Re:On remedies...(chicken soup) (1)

NerveGas (168686) | more than 7 years ago | (#16663863)

"It's called Oral Rehydration Therapy, and I'm getting together the ingredients this week. "

    You're getting the ingredients together this week? Man, if you don't already have water, sugar, and salt, then you might be in trouble. :-)

    The sugar and salt method is used because almost EVERYONE has those ingredients available, not because it's the best. It is enough, though, that even with severe diarrhea, you can survive almost indefinitely - certainly long enough to get medical care. Sugar gives you a way to rapidly absorb some calories before it shoots out the other end, and salt provides soidum and chloride ions, two of the major (I should say THE two major) electrolites in the body. But, there are others, like potassium - and so a bottle of gatorade (you can buy large tubs of powdered gatorade) is much better than the salt-and-water. And there's still another major step up, pedialyte is much better than gatorade as well. Having been through some very serious illnesses in other countries, I can tell you that not only does pedialyte work MUCH better, it's also a bit more tasty than plain salt-and-sugar water.

    (In some countries, hospitals have cholera units where patients are put in hammocks with a hole cut for their butts, and 5-gallon buckets beneath them.)

Re:On remedies...(chicken soup) (1)

NerveGas (168686) | more than 7 years ago | (#16663897)

"how do we operate the city when 30-40% of our staff are out sick themselves or busy at home caring for their family members"

An even better approach would be "How can we send as many people as possible home, so we're not contributing to the problem by having them spread it around at the office?"

Vaccine != Antibiotic (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16662293)

The book is especially timely given yesterday's news that a new, antibiotics-resistant variant of H5N1 has been detected in China.

WRONG. Antibiotics do nothing against viruses. Good going, submitter.

Of our creation, that's right (0, Offtopic)

TheDoctorWho (858166) | more than 7 years ago | (#16661829)

The virus that is the human race continues to manifest itself in every corner of the earth, and it's not getting any better. HIV was our own creation as well. Take note. Time for Mother Earth to purge herself of the vile human race. We just ain't worth the trouble.

Antibiotic resistant??? (4, Informative)

the_humeister (922869) | more than 7 years ago | (#16661887)

The book is especially timely given yesterday's news that a new, antibiotics-resistant variant of H5N1 has been detected in China
It's a virus! Antibiotics are for bacterial-type infections. A vaccine is not an antibiotic.

Re:Antibiotic resistant??? (4, Insightful)

Abcd1234 (188840) | more than 7 years ago | (#16662045)

Oh for god sake, who asked you to inject facts into what is clearly an article targeted at fear mongering?

What's the logic? (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16662741)

I don't understand your use of the polemic "fear mongering", nor do I see why this book is "clearly" a case of it. Is the logic, "if I don't like the message it's fear mongerging, but if approve of the message it's a sober wake-up call?" Seems like the authors of the book did *a lot* more research than you have.

Re:Antibiotic resistant??? (1)

Volante3192 (953645) | more than 7 years ago | (#16662103)

Still...it is a true statement. Can't exactly dock him for being not factual.

Re:Antibiotic resistant??? (1)

h4rm0ny (722443) | more than 7 years ago | (#16662207)


It seems that the fault is entirely on the parts of the submitter and editor, as the linked article clearly says vaccine resistant.

That idiocy dispensed with, the problem is less modern farming techniques (although these are bad and do contribute) so much as it is modern concentrated population centres and rapid world wide travel. Someone picks up something nasty in korea and the next day they're spreading round the dense population of New York.

Re:Antibiotic resistant??? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16662391)

That idiocy dispensed with, the problem is less modern farming techniques (although these are bad and do contribute) so much as it is modern concentrated population centres and rapid world wide travel.


Actually, its very specifically the practice of injecting chickens with anti-biotics and vaccines to help improve the survival rate in the poor conditions of 3rd world (& Chinese) factory farms. This gives the germs/viruses opportunity to develop resistance to these measures in the chicken, so that when they can make the leap to humans, they've already achieved resistance. US practice says we let a few chickens die so that when the virus leaps to humans we can slap it with medicines its never seen before, beating it down easily.

Concentrated population centres and rapid world wide travel only help it spread, it has little to do with the genesis of these super-diseases. And while I don't mean to dismiss the risk, but compared to real baddies, like Polio, Malaria, or Black Death, these modern super diseases seem pretty tame. (Thankfully)

Re:Antibiotic resistant??? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16662153)

The linked-to article says vaccine not antibiotics. This is just Lifelongactivist's tofu poisoned and B12 deprived brain in action.

Well, etymologically speaking... (1)

patrixmyth (167599) | more than 7 years ago | (#16662427)

Anti (Against)- Biotic (Relating to Life)...
Antibiotic- Anti-Life, so technically a viral immunization could be considered an antibiotic (as long as you consider a virus to be alive, which is an open scientific question). The the virus itself could also be considered antibiotic, as could anti-freeze and anti-personnel mines. It sounds nitpicky, but no more so than usual for slashdot. The editor should probably go back and insert antiviral resistant, and penicillin should probably be referred to as anti-bacteriological.

Re:Antibiotic resistant??? (2)

kdawson (3715) | more than 7 years ago | (#16663207)

I applied a correction: the article says "vaccine-resistant." It was wrong in the submission and I missed it.

antibiotics resistant? (0, Redundant)

Albort (770971) | more than 7 years ago | (#16661889)

As I recall, viruses aren't treated with antibiotics. The strain mentioned in the last link is resistant to the immune response generated by current vaccines. It may seem like a small distinction, but people demanding antibiotic treatment courses from their doctors regardless of the actual infecting agent is one of the reasons we have such a rapid spread of antibiotic resistant bacteria.

ARTICLE LINK DOESN'T EVEN MENTION ANTIBIOTICS (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16662131)

"The book is especially timely given yesterday's news that a new, antibiotics-resistant variant of H5N1 has been detected in China."

The article linked to doesn't even mention antibiotics. I mean, come on. Typical fact-free hype.

If you want a good book about influenza:

"The Great Influenze: The Story of the Deadliest Pandemic in History" by John M. Barry, 2005, is about the 1918 Pandemic and discusses everything you need to know about flu, pandemics etc.

Since antiboitics would never work on a virus... (0, Redundant)

kary4th (631977) | more than 7 years ago | (#16661895)

I guess this isn't really news.

All Flu strains are resitant to antibiotics! (0, Redundant)

tscheez (71929) | more than 7 years ago | (#16661911)

Being that antibiotics are for bacterial infections and not viruses

Captain Obvious breaks it down again (4, Insightful)

jmorris42 (1458) | more than 7 years ago | (#16661915)


The book is especially timely given yesterday's news that a new, antibiotics-resistant variant of H5N1 has been detected in China."


Slashdot folk should be bright enough to know better. ALL viri are 100% immune to antibiotics. Antibiotics only work against germ based diseases.



Anyway.... Someday we will get another major pandemic, and yes our modern industrial livestock methods will contribute some to it. But they popped up before and will still pop up if we abandoned it. The question for debate is: are the potential savings from lowering the odds of a pandenic worth the certain loss of life from famine and all it's attendant problems that would result from losing the food production capacity gained from industrialization.

Re:Captain Obvious breaks it down again (1)

kfg (145172) | more than 7 years ago | (#16662051)

The question for debate is: are the potential savings from lowering the odds of a pandenic worth the certain loss of life from famine and all it's attendant problems that would result from losing the food production capacity gained from industrialization.

First demonstrate that there would actually be any such loss of food production.

KFG

Re:Captain Obvious breaks it down again (1)

Gothmolly (148874) | more than 7 years ago | (#16662083)

There wouldn't be certain loss of life from famine if we stopped mass-producing livestock, since you can grow much more grain than meat on a piece of land.

Re:Captain Obvious breaks it down again (1)

antarctican (301636) | more than 7 years ago | (#16662189)

There wouldn't be certain loss of life from famine if we stopped mass-producing livestock, since you can grow much more grain than meat on a piece of land.

But which would you prefer, a big bowl of oats or a nice juicy burger? Meat is so much tastier then grain, let the cows eat it and we'll eat them. ;)

Re:Captain Obvious breaks it down again (1)

Moofie (22272) | more than 7 years ago | (#16662735)

If the nutritional output of a field of grain were identical to a herd of cattle, you might have a point. Since they're not, you don't.

Humans have pointy teeth for a reason.

Re:Captain Obvious breaks it down again (1)

Mr. Slippery (47854) | more than 7 years ago | (#16663133)

Humans have pointy teeth for a reason.

Compared to carnivorous species, human teeth aren't pointy enough to be worth talking about.

There's also a reason why carnivorous species don't get hyperlipidema, but humans who eat a diet high in animal flesh do.

Re:Captain Obvious breaks it down again (1)

dylan_- (1661) | more than 7 years ago | (#16663721)

There's also a reason why carnivorous species don't get hyperlipidema, but humans who eat a diet high in animal flesh do
But carnivorous animals do get hyperlipidemia.

Re:Captain Obvious breaks it down again (1)

Mab_Mass (903149) | more than 7 years ago | (#16662785)

you can grow much more grain than meat on a piece of land.

In most cases, you are correct, and if I put your quote back in context of your comment, you are correct. However, there are still some circumstances where meat wins, such as on very steep hillsides, etc. where the animals are able to feed themselves through grazing on land unsuitable for growing grain.

I don't mean to be pedantic here. My point is really that there are alternatives to mass production that do make efficient use of the land, and if people made their buying choices based upon how the meat was raised, we could (potentially) have sustainable meat eating. Of course, this assumes that meat demand is reasonable and not influenced by any moronic fads like the Atkins diet.

While I'm wandering off topic here, has anybody else noticed that the Atkins diet has a strange resonance with the fad of the Salisbury steak [foodreference.com] ?

Re:Captain Obvious breaks it down again (1)

ashley_moran (976590) | more than 7 years ago | (#16663197)

In most cases, you are correct, and if I put your quote back in context of your comment, you are correct. However, there are still some circumstances where meat wins, such as on very steep hillsides, etc. where the animals are able to feed themselves through grazing on land unsuitable for growing grain.

I'm glad someone raised this - I was about to make the point myself. The world has far more pastoral land than arable land. There is also the small issue that COW ARE NOT SUPPOSED TO EAT GRAINS! Cows are ruminants, designed to eat grass. Feeding them grains makes them sick and makes the quality of the meat worse, which renders the exercise at best pointless.

Off-topic bit follows :)

I'm not fond of the Atkins diet, despite eating a diet myself that often could pass as a valid Atkins (I don't specifically restrict my carbohydrate intake, but it often ends up low anyway as sugary/starchy foods don't agree with me). Atkins turns people into mindless carb-counters, with no concept of what or how much they should be eating, besides getting a single variable below a certain value. For an interesting look at the composition of a natural diet in line with my opinions above, look at this article on native Americans: Guts and Grease: The Diet of Native Americans [westonaprice.org]

Re:Captain Obvious breaks it down again (1)

ksheff (2406) | more than 7 years ago | (#16663655)

got any links that backup "grains make cattle sick"? Having grown up on a farm raising cattle and many relatives still in that profession, I'd say that's bullshit.

Re:Captain Obvious breaks it down again (1)

ElectricRook (264648) | more than 7 years ago | (#16662831)

There wouldn't be certain loss of life from famine if we stopped mass-producing livestock, since you can grow much more grain than meat on a piece of land.

Actually there would be a significant loss of life if we drastically changed our agriculture away from livestock.

Only the loss of life would not happen in the wealthy countries.

It is safe to say that we have evolved with livestock as a major part of our agricultire program.

You might have a more intelligent design. But for me, I'll stick to the proven results of evolution.

Re:Captain Obvious breaks it down again (1)

mspohr (589790) | more than 7 years ago | (#16662215)

The conversion factor of grain to livestock varies from 14:1 for beef to 7:1 for chickens.

If we stopped feeding animals this grain, there would be a lot more for people to eat (as well as ridding ourselves of the problems caused by industrial scale meat production). (doubleplusgood)

Re:Captain Obvious breaks it down again (1)

jmorris42 (1458) | more than 7 years ago | (#16662393)

> If we stopped feeding animals this grain, there would be a lot more for people to eat

Plants are what food eats.

Ok, old joke and I know we H. Sapiens are actuallu omnivores who need a balanced diet of both to thrive but the point is still valid. We aren't made to be vegetarians and I damned sure ain't giving up yummy meat. Besides, who wants to get vaginatitus. :)

Re:Captain Obvious breaks it down again (1)

mspohr (589790) | more than 7 years ago | (#16662873)

Besides, who wants to get vaginatitus.

...and I damned sure ain't giving up yummy meat

For "vaginatitus", Firefox spell check suggests:

- unimaginative

- imaginatively

- paginations

I don't know what you had in mind but it sure sounds bad.... (could it be some disease that takes over the vagina and tits?)... or perhaps you get if from "your yummy meat"... Anyway, I doubt you could get it from eating vegetables or we would have heard of it by now.

Joke explained for the unhip (1)

jmorris42 (1458) | more than 7 years ago | (#16663067)


I don't know what you had in mind but it sure sounds bad....


See South Park, Episode 0605, Fun With Veal. [southparkstudios.com]

Re:Captain Obvious breaks it down again (1)

Grishnakh (216268) | more than 7 years ago | (#16662577)

The conversion factor of grain to livestock varies from 14:1 for beef to 7:1 for chickens.

So what? We're omnivores, and we require both plants and animals in our diet for optimum health.

Turning all land to growing grain won't help anyone survive (except the livestock). There is NO lack of food in the world right now that could be fixed by growing more food. We could grow 10x the amount of food as we do now, and people would still be starving all over the world. If you want to stop famine, you have to do something about the political and economic situations in countries where famine exists. That means we have to build up big armies and invade these countries, destroy their armies, and execute everyone in their governments. Then we have to occupy these countries, set up puppet governments, oppress the people (to put down any insurrections or rebellions) and only then we can feed everyone. That's the only way. Or we can sit back and wait for these people do decide on their own that they want a better way of life, and do something about it. "You can bring a horse to water..."

Re:Captain Obvious breaks it down again (1)

mspohr (589790) | more than 7 years ago | (#16663039)

Perhaps this link could help you:

Medscape Medical News "Vegetable Consumption Slows Rate of Cognitive Decline" http://www.medscape.com/viewarticle/546472?src=mp [medscape.com]

It sounds like an easier path than the old fashioned imperialism thing which isn't working too well now.

Re:Captain Obvious breaks it down again (1)

Grishnakh (216268) | more than 7 years ago | (#16663257)

Your link is broken.

Re:Captain Obvious breaks it down again (1)

Mr. Slippery (47854) | more than 7 years ago | (#16663091)

We're omnivores, and we require both plants and animals in our diet for optimum health.

There is no nutritional requirement for flesh food, or indeed for animal foods of any sort, in the human diet, as the the existance of legions of healthy vegetarians and vegans proves. (Which is not to say that there are not healthful diets that contain flesh foods, and unhealthful vegan diets.)

Turning all land to growing grain won't help anyone survive (except the livestock).

Moving towards a plant-centered diet doen't just mean more food, it means less resources are consumed to make food. A meat-heavy diet requires farming practices that increase pollution and emissions of greenhouse gas; and reducing that will indeed help people survive.

And avoiding killing sentient beings for our own pleasure is also a good idea.

Re:Captain Obvious breaks it down again (1)

Grishnakh (216268) | more than 7 years ago | (#16663295)

And avoiding killing sentient beings for our own pleasure is also a good idea.

What about all the plants that you kill? They're sentient too: they have senses. How else do plants turn towards the sun?

By your own definition, you shouldn't be eating any type of living organism. Maybe you could eat some mud. Oh wait, that probably has living bacteria in it.

some thoughts (1)

zogger (617870) | more than 7 years ago | (#16663221)

I have 33 cows, they all eat grass.(yes, this is quite small compared to the huge operations, just what I have anecdotally to talk about) Switching to grain farming wouldn't be very productive here, just the equipment outlay would make it impractical and the way the land is here would make it impractical. It's only practical on the really huge and mostly flat terrain farms that can justify the potential ROI. Modern equipment is *not cheap*., and with few exceptions, local property taxes-and just land prices by the acre- are starting to kill off all the medium and small farming operations. The bulk of the farmers now are only able to keep farming because the land is in the family for generations, but without estate tax reform, that is vanishing rapidly. Until you can get the people(consumers) and the federal government to recognize that food-agriculture is of *critical* national importance and they change and alter the tax structure to reflect that, I mean radical changes including entire season floats on loan and operating costs expenses if there is a widespread drought, etc,, you will have the ag setup you see right now, which is the closest to even being marginally profitable for the bulk of the farmers out there.

In essence, you need to walk a mile in the other guy's muddy boots to see what is right and wrong with "the system" as it stands now.

Re:Captain Obvious breaks it down again (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16662661)

losing the food production capacity gained from industrialization.

Yeah, uh, around these parts we don't call feeding animals their own shit "industrialization". I know you city folks like to breathe your own shit and call it progress, so the confusion is certainly understandable.

Re:Captain Obvious breaks it down again (1)

ashley_moran (976590) | more than 7 years ago | (#16662779)

Anyway.... Someday we will get another major pandemic, and yes our modern industrial livestock methods will contribute some to it. But they popped up before and will still pop up if we abandoned it. The question for debate is: are the potential savings from lowering the odds of a pandenic worth the certain loss of life from famine and all it's attendant problems that would result from losing the food production capacity gained from industrialization.

Industrialised food production is not the miracle it seems. I remember reading a good while ago about a country in Africa that suffered several years of running drought, and the only way for many people to survive was to revert to the diet of the local bushmen. The thirsty arable crops relied on more water than the environment could reliably supply, and when the rain stopped, people died. Those (few) still eating an indigenous diet were unaffected, because the plants and animals they ate were adapted to the local arid climate. I can't remember who the article described - I *think* it was the San, which would place this around Botswana.

Natural systems have cycles of hunger and plenty, but humans invented famine. We take too much from the land, and keep taking until it has been depleted completely. This low cost of this food is an illusion - the land eventually gets back what we took when we die of starvation.

Re:Captain Obvious breaks it down again (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16662863)

You should have been bright enough not to use the stupid word "viri" when you meant viruses.

Virus is an English word (despite its latin etymological roots), which means it is pluralised following the rules of English. Thus, it is "viruses" not "viri".

Re:Captain Obvious breaks it down again (1)

cesoid (1020893) | more than 7 years ago | (#16663119)

The article linked talks about an anti-body (anti-viral) resistant strain, the name is just a typo. This is hopefully obvious to most readers. But they popped up before and will still pop up if we abandoned it. This is true, but the point is that if we continue as we are now, they will become much more frequent and deadly. Also, as Gregor discusses in the book, many of the diseases we had grown accustomed to (and in large part eradicated by the 70's) actually come not from industrializing meat, but by domesticating animals in the first place. He blames industrializing meat for an explosion of new viruses. And, as eluded to by the other replies, most of the food in the world is eaten by animals, if they didn't exist and we continued to grow the same amount, we would have more, not less food. Starvation is largely a social, economic, and political problem.

Re:Captain Obvious breaks it down again (1)

RAMMS+EIN (578166) | more than 7 years ago | (#16663979)

``The question for debate is: are the potential savings from lowering the odds of a pandenic worth the certain loss of life from famine and all it's attendant problems that would result from losing the food production capacity gained from industrialization.''

A lot of food we produce is not eaten by us, but by the animals we raise for later consumption. We could produce a lot more food if we cut out the indirection and ate that food ourselves. Of course, we would need to take care that we produce something considered edible, not the junk we feed to the animals we eat. At any rate, it's not clear to me at all that there is "certain loss of life from famine" if we stop factory farming.

Antibiotics? (-1, Redundant)

Aelix (687985) | more than 7 years ago | (#16661919)

How can a flu strain be antibiotics resistant? The flu is a virus.

I remember a couple of years ago (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16661927)

on NPR an interview with poultry farmers in Europe. They would clean out the coups every day at least once. They didn't have to use antibiotics because they kept the cages clean - duh! And, they saved money.

Here in the US, the poultry farmers don't clean the cages at all and to compensate, they pump up the birds up with antibiotics to keep them from getting sick.

Re:I remember a couple of years ago (1)

nido (102070) | more than 7 years ago | (#16662473)

Tyson Foods, inc [coopamerica.org] is not a "poultry farmer". They are an industrial chicken producer. No self-respecting american would work in such an environment, thus Tyson has to import illegal immigrants [poultry.org] to keep their operations profitable.

Chickens with reasonable living accomodations and an environment free of dioxin contamination [birdfluhype.com] simply don't get bird flu.

Arsenic in chicken feed [consumerreports.org] also likely causes (subtle?) health problems... "But the lack of arsenic in organic chickens is suggestive: USDA standards do not allow arsenic in organic-chicken feed."

Re:I remember a couple of years ago (1)

Grishnakh (216268) | more than 7 years ago | (#16662617)

This is why I've come to try to only buy the "free range" chicken sold at organic stores. It's nice knowing the birds had a much more pleasant and happy life before their sudden beheading, and the meat is much better and healthier tasting too (and bigger--the muscles are much larger).

Re:I remember a couple of years ago (1)

ashley_moran (976590) | more than 7 years ago | (#16663381)

"...The [free range organic] birds had a much more pleasant and happy life" is an understatement. One of the most disturbing things about intensively-reared chicken is that it is killed while still technically an infant. The huge amount of growth hormones they are injected with causes them to reach near adult size before maturity. This is one reason why the ratio of organic cost : non-organic cost is so much higher for chicken than other meats.

Re:I remember a couple of years ago (1)

thule (9041) | more than 7 years ago | (#16663665)

By "free range" do you mean that the chickens can walk around and pick up all sorts of contaminates in the area including migratory bird droppings? Chickens raised in enclosed structures are less likely to be exposed to migratory bird contamination. It seems to me that is a much safer way to go.

Re:I remember a couple of years ago (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16663919)

keep telling yourself that while you're being ripped off. ag producers are aware of consumer market trends and will raise animals that consumers want. Hogs being sold to slaughterhouses today are much leaner, better fed animals than the fat laden animals of a few decades ago. modern farming practices have evolved to produce a better product at a reasonable cost to the consumer regardless of the BS being spread by PETA and their ilk.

mother nature... (1)

TrippTDF (513419) | more than 7 years ago | (#16661945)

... has a way of "balancing things out". The current population of the planet is only possible thanks to technological advancements such as tech that allows for us to create more food and move it to where the people are. Now, as the population goes up, you need to increase the output of food. It seems that perhaps we are hitting a limit, where we can't product enough food (given current methods) without causing a huge human plague, and mother nature is going to tell us that here pretty soon.

Malthus (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16662071)

Malthus called. He says he wants his crap theories back.

Say what? (1)

jbeaupre (752124) | more than 7 years ago | (#16662181)

How does technology, population size and food production equate to a plague, much less an anthropomorphic deity telling us squat? It's just not that simple. If people would wash their hands more, wear masks, etc, the flu would be almost non-existent. Those are social norms, not technology or population dependent.

And at no point does some woman in a billowy outfit ever come into the picture.

Re:mother nature... (1)

foobsr (693224) | more than 7 years ago | (#16662229)

technological advancements such as tech that allows for us to create more food and move it to where the people are

There must be a flaw in the system:

Quote: [fhfh.org]
Based on the Census Bureau survey, USDA estimates that in 2000, 10.5 million U.S. households were food insecure, meaning that they did not have access to enough food to meet their basic needs.

CC.

Re:mother nature... (1)

Grishnakh (216268) | more than 7 years ago | (#16662743)

... has a way of "balancing things out". The current population of the planet is only possible thanks to technological advancements such as tech that allows for us to create more food and move it to where the people are. Now, as the population goes up, you need to increase the output of food. It seems that perhaps we are hitting a limit, where we can't product enough food (given current methods) without causing a huge human plague, and mother nature is going to tell us that here pretty soon.

Another way we could balance things would be to reduce the human population. The way mother nature does it is normally with predators. I say we breed more mountain lions, tigers, and other large predators, and set them loose in inhabited areas. Furthermore, make a law banning people from using any weapons in defending themselves from predatorial attack by these creatures. Those who violate the law will be tied up in an area with lots of predators and have honey poured on them. And even better, in the interest of reducing one of our society's most overpopulated segments, law offices and courthouses will be required to have doors that open automatically whenever predators approach.

Re:mother nature... (1)

owlnation (858981) | more than 7 years ago | (#16663107)

... has a way of "balancing things out"
It's certainly true that changes in elements of an ecosystem due to for example, changes in food supply, can restore a degree of natural balance over a number of years.

However, this is in no way guaranteed or necessarily a "natural" system. There is (I'm afraid) no evidence of a Mother Nature. Species die out. Species have been failing and dying out spectacularly since the beginning of life.

While mankind has been spectacularly destructive and exploitative in the past few hundred years, we aren't to blame for most of the species exctinctions. Excluding Dicks-in-Timemachines we are wholly innocent of any dinosauricides.(McSoylent Really Big Mac anyone?)

This being why this book is a useful reminder that we should take care, and do all we can to prevent systems where virii can thrive. A virus wiping out a sizeable chunk of Humanity is not implausible.

Antibiotics-resistant variant of H5N1 (-1, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16661963)

lol, all "Flu" is antibiotic resistant. Antibiotics are not a cure for a virus.

Feh (1)

gowen (141411) | more than 7 years ago | (#16661985)

Sounds like nothing we didn't learn from BSE (Mad Cow Disease), At least that stopped British farmers inserting brain matter back into the food chain.

An Antibiotic not an Antiviral (1)

CrazyJim1 (809850) | more than 7 years ago | (#16661997)

I must get a vaccine so I don't get strep throat. Help. I have the flu, I demand Pennicillin. I'm just making fun of the post after post of the same subject. Its like a viral post where everyone posts the same thing in different words, Yay for technology.

Re:An Antibiotic not an Antiviral (1)

Cro Magnon (467622) | more than 7 years ago | (#16662387)

It's a mutating virus! That's why the words are different.

Timely? (1)

0racle (667029) | more than 7 years ago | (#16662001)

I haven't heard about the Bird Flu for a while, the panic has past. I think the word you were looking for is Late.

Re:Timely? (1)

owlnation (858981) | more than 7 years ago | (#16663187)

I haven't heard about the Bird Flu for a while, the panic has past.
Sorry, no. It's seasonal. Bird Migration for example being a factor. You hadn't heard much about it since last season. This is the new Bird flu season. Now's the time the reports will increase again.

There are no antibiotic-resistant flu strains (2, Informative)

smellsofbikes (890263) | more than 7 years ago | (#16662027)

Antibiotics work on bacteria, not on viruses. This new virus is not stopped by the current vaccine, although the reason for that is unclear.

Flu has something somewhat like chromosomes: different strands of genetic material that can mix and recombine. As a result there are many, many subvarieties of influenza. The way vaccination works (currently and for the forseeable future) is it presents parts of the virus to your immune system so your immune system can subsequently recognize them and fight them off. We can't present every single possible viral coat in one shot (mostly because we haven't ever encountered most of them so we don't have any way of making them to put into the shot) so what we do is take the viruses that are currently active in China, put those in the shot, and give those to suseptible populations. It's a different mix every single year, and it sounds like now this one has changed enough it's time for another mix, just like every other year.

A reason that flu is particularly worrisome is that it's shared between pigs, chickens, and humans, which is somewhat unusual; in many places in the world people, pigs, and chickens live in close contact, which makes cross-infection easy; and when a person, pig or chicken catches two different varieties of flu, they can recombine (because of the multiple strands of genetic material) and create a whole new variety that is unlike anything seen before. The new variety will suddenly have a whole world of unprepared immune systems to go attack, so it'll do very well indeed for a while.

Re:There are no antibiotic-resistant flu strains (1)

WormholeFiend (674934) | more than 7 years ago | (#16662337)

Antibiotics work on bacteria...

Except when they stop working.

Antibiotics-resistant bacteria are way scarier, IMO, especially since you're more likely to get infected by them where you go for treatment (ie hospitals).

Re:There are no antibiotic-resistant flu strains (1)

smellsofbikes (890263) | more than 7 years ago | (#16662695)

Hospital infections, for your vocabulary experience of the day, are called nosocomial diseases. Impress people! Or just betray your geekiness.

It's a hard call which are scarier. Multi-drug-resistant tuberculosis is likely to be this decade's AIDS: slowly but inescapably lethal. Some of the most horrible, quick diseases are also bacterial: necrotizing fasciitis, pneumonic plague. But there are also some seriously horrible viral diseases. In all honesty, we should still call AIDS 99% fatal, and hantavirus is pretty lethal. Ebolavirus is appallingly horrible, and lassa is pretty awful.

However, I have to say that my own personal nightmares are mostly parasitic: river blindness, Chagas' disease, trypanosomiasis, stuff like that. Particularly river blindness: I've read that the mortality rate is something like 60% and it's almost entirely suicide. EEEEEEEEeeeeugh.

mmm (0, Offtopic)

destroygbiv (896968) | more than 7 years ago | (#16662067)

but is it soybean oil resistant?

It's not antibiotic resistant (1)

antarctican (301636) | more than 7 years ago | (#16662109)

Please let's be clear, it's not antibiotic resistant, because the flu is not a bacteria it's a virus. It's a vaccine resistant strain, which is very different.

It means the chickens aren't protected from GETTING this strain of bird flu. However once they have it there's no drug that currently exists to treat it, it all comes down to one's own immune system (however in the case of chickens it simply means death since I can't see a hospital being set up to care for them and give them hot chicken soup... nevermind)

It would be an anti-viral drug that would have to be developed to treat someone infected with any kind of flu/cold, not an antibiotic. And those are a lot harder to develop, it's much simpler to make a vaccine which causes an immune response preventing any infection from being able to set in to begin with.

It's also why all these antibiotics given to animals in our food supply are nearly completely pointless to begin with, they don't help with viral infections and only make bacteria more resistant.

So... (1)

PieSquared (867490) | more than 7 years ago | (#16662129)

I've never understood the huge stress people put on the bird flu. Maybe it is 10 times as likely to mutate to kill millions as any other virus... but there are millions of different viruses. The billions we spend on defending against what might someday become a threat of unknown proportion... would be far better spent on general virus research. Otherwise chances are another virus will mutate and kill us all while we wait for the bird flu to do the same. It's just another excuse to waste all our money.

Re:So... (1)

jandrese (485) | more than 7 years ago | (#16662333)

The fear is because not only is it a relatively minor mutation to make the virus compatable with humans, but we have historical evidence that a very similar thing has happened in the past. The 1918 flu that killed between 20 to 40 million people worldwide is considered to be a reasonable preview to what would happen if H5N1 mutated into a human transmissable form. While it's true that virtually any virus could mutate into something deadly to humans and rapidly transmissable, the amount of mutation required for that to happen in most cases is far larger than what is required for H5N1 to do the same thing. Thus, we're protecting against the most likely threat, which is really all we can do.

Re:So... (1)

Aqua_boy17 (962670) | more than 7 years ago | (#16663793)

Agreed, more FUD. Anyone remember West Nile? That was the panic du jour before bird flu, but it didn't really do much and is now off the media radar. It's a perfect example of another media generated crisis that's not really panning out.

The article does make some good points about antibiotic misuse and this has been a pet peeve of mine for a while that I think is a cause for genuine concern. Diseases like MRSA can be devastating (I have a friend with it who has not been able to work since May, and is lucky to be alive) and are pretty much a direct result of the over/misuse of human antibiotics. Overuse of antibiotics in livestock where they're excreted back into the environment is a recipe for breeding lots more antibiotic resistant and much nastier bugs. It's basically using natural selection to breed bugs that are better equiped to harm us. Yet no one in the mass media really talks about this as it's not as sexy as a gloom and doom pandemic scenario.

We must go back to hunting and gathering (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16662149)

The hard part will be convincing several billion people to commit suicide.

The researchers... (4, Funny)

chuck (477) | more than 7 years ago | (#16662211)


The researchers collected 53,220 fecal samples from chickens, geese and ducks in poultry markets in six Chinese provinces between July 2005 and June 2006.

I'm glad I'm a programmer.

Tell me about it... (1)

attemptedgoalie (634133) | more than 7 years ago | (#16662281)

What a shit job!

Yep, I went there. :-)

Re:The researchers... (1)

Cro Magnon (467622) | more than 7 years ago | (#16662451)

Yeah. They get their viri from fecal matter. We get ours from Windows PCs.

Re:The researchers... (1)

fbartho (840012) | more than 7 years ago | (#16662625)

tomatoe, tomato...

Re:The researchers... (1)

Maximilio (969075) | more than 7 years ago | (#16662509)

Yeah, except if you have to work with MFC. Then you might as well lick feces for all the dignity you're going to end up with.

Nonsense. (2, Informative)

FellowConspirator (882908) | more than 7 years ago | (#16662273)

Since several already beat me to the antibiotics being for bacteria and not viruses, I'll have to add:

If the theory is that the industrial farming of livestock leads to cross-species infection, then there's not a lot to indicate that. Bird flu is a particularly good example, seeing as how the H5N1 strain mentioned originated in poultry from pre-industrial style farms in southeast Asia. All of the cases outside of that region have been detected in wild birds. Crossing species has only been reported among people in those areas where there's protracted contact with the birds.

The referenced site overstates the virulence of the H5N1 flu as well.

Antibiotics don't select for strains of the virus, and strictly speaking neither do vaccinations.

Animal products being fed to the same species can be a problem for prion-based disorders, but that represents a very situation that produces a toxin, not a virulent disease.

As far as treatment for it, that's easy. There's only two: vaccination, and transfusion of blood from someone that's already had it. Other than that, you just treat the symptoms and hope for the best.

Bird flu is a bird disease (1)

SiliconEntity (448450) | more than 7 years ago | (#16662287)

Bird flu is a bird disease. Although there are cases where people have managed to catch it from birds, they are extremely rare, only a few hundred in the whole world. Worry more about shark attacks.

Re:Bird flu is a bird disease (1)

DigitalRaptor (815681) | more than 7 years ago | (#16662483)

Um, the 1918 flu pandemic that killed around 40 million people worldwide WAS the bird flu.

Show me 40 million shark deaths anywhere in history and we'll talk.

Re:Bird flu is a bird disease (1)

cantino (649023) | more than 7 years ago | (#16662513)

The difference is shark attacks are unlikely to suddenly evolve into a virulent form that jumps from person to person. Until we have air-born, rapidly mutating sharkes, that is.

A book? (1)

BoberFett (127537) | more than 7 years ago | (#16662365)

Make it a movie. Preferably one starring Jean Claude van Damme and a suitably attractive love interest who save the world from a deadly strain of bird flu. I'd be all over that.

Factory Farming Keeps Humans and Animals Apart (2, Interesting)

radtea (464814) | more than 7 years ago | (#16662443)

modern industrialized agricultural methods, including factory farming, antibiotics misuse, and the use of animal refuse as a food source (!) for chickens and other livestock, have led to a staggering increase in the number of 'zoonotic' diseases that can leap from animals to people, and make a bird flu pandemic likely

Which claim raises the question: why is it that flu pandemics always originate in the Far East, where none of these things are prevalent?

The conventional wisdom is that in the Orient there is far more routine contact between human beings and food animals, and far less emphasis on maintaining a relatively hygenic environment in the places where such contact occurs. Part of this is cultural (some food animals in China are typically sold to consumerss while still alive) and part of it is economic (factory farming is capital intensive, and agriculture has tended to lag other industries in industrialization. The transfer of viruses between humans and animals made possible by this routine contact is what produces cross-species pandemics.

On the other hand, factory farming keeps animals pretty much completely isolated from humans (and the outdoors, freedom to move, wild grasses, and everything else.)

So while I'm no fan of all aspects of modern factory farming, I have very little doubt that it is at least partly responsible for the relative scarcity of flu pandemics that originate in the West.

The article itself is just fud, and the person submitting it is not an environmentalist, but rather just another religious kook who has wandered into the wrong movement.

Re:Factory Farming Keeps Humans and Animals Apart (1)

ksheff (2406) | more than 7 years ago | (#16663963)

thank you for paying attention.

one word... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16662521)

PARANOIA!

Recycled Food (1)

HTH NE1 (675604) | more than 7 years ago | (#16662559)

the use of animal refuse as a food source

Eat recycled food, for a happier, healthier life. Be kind and peaceful to each other, eat recycled food. Recycled food - it's good for the environment, and ok for you.

Um...hypothetically speaking.... (1)

antifoidulus (807088) | more than 7 years ago | (#16662659)

is chicken copulation out of the question? You know, just out of curiosity....

A better book (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16662697)

A better book about bird flu is prolly 'The Great Influenza' by John Barry.

You can bet my family has two weeks worth of food and more importantly loaded weapons. This is not scare mongering, this is being prepared.

Re:A better book (1)

dkoulomzin (320266) | more than 7 years ago | (#16662805)

Right, I get you... tempt the virus with food, and then shoot it.

Good luck in the pandemic, man.

Re:A better book (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16662889)

No the weapons are for to shoot the people who try to steal my food :) Btw, who are you calling a man?

FUD or not? (1)

lymond01 (314120) | more than 7 years ago | (#16662733)

I don't want to downplay this too much, even my place of work has a new phone tree in case we need to call people to tell them everyone's dead...

But haven't more people died from spinach, indeed, from pretty much anything else that's deadly, than bird flu? I'm not saying it won't be eventually become more prevalent, but I think the likelihood of getting hit by a jet airliner's frozen poop is proba.....

Apparently Rumsfield is running low on cash.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16662793)

More fear mongering to get us to buy Tamiflu.....

http://www.snopes.com/politics/medical/tamiflu.asp [snopes.com]

This kind of crap (1, Troll)

baggins2001 (697667) | more than 7 years ago | (#16662853)

This is the kind of fear mongering which is used to divert peoples attention from real issues.
Although the author may be exploiting the media hype for his own ego. There are other problems/viruses that are here now and are killing people. West Nile virus, deer tick virus, Lyme disease. But lets all concentrate only on something that hasn't even materialized yet. Why not worry about one of these mutating into something worse.
This is tantamount to worrying about gay marriage instead of the 2800 US soldiers killed in Irag. Once we can get the focus on that then we can start focusing on how many people have been killed in Irag period.
It seems that with the improvements in media for dispensing information, we find ourselves worrying without proper priorities.

Deplorable (1)

Eravnrekaree (467752) | more than 7 years ago | (#16663653)

This book sounds like it does a pretty good job of explaining many of the issues, often caused by the greed of the factory farming and agribusiness companies which seek to maximise profit, at the expense of everything else. The fact that chickens are fed shit (literally), and kept in inhumane and unhealthy conditions has been well known for years. We also see this in the cattle industry, where cows were fed parts of other animals, which may have led to mad cow disease. Cows are herbivorous, and should not eat meat.

Not only are the health issues deplorable, but the way these animals are treated as well. Many of these farms are called concentration camp farms and are hell on earth. The animals are kept in small cages where they cannot move, crowded with many other birds. Some are kept in large warehouses and never see the outdoors, and are still crowded and often go insane, attacking other chickens. This often leads to cruel practices such as debeaking the chickens with hot blades. Like people, chickens need time away from others of their type.

At slaughter, cows are supposed to be stunned with a bolt gun. But since the line moves so fast, many cows are not stunned properly and knocked out, and make it to the disassembly part of the line still conscious. Workers are not allowed to stop the line or if they do they may be fired.

Chickens are not stunned, their necks are slit and they bleed to death, slow and painful, but hopefully before they get to the processing sections of the line. The floor in this facilities is basically a lake of blood.

If most Americans knew what happens to animals in these plants, most would demand humane slaughter and living conditions for all animals, or at least, I would hope.

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