#2 Mexico’s government shuts down in response to swine flu
With cases of the never-seen-before combined bird, pig and human flu still on the rise, Mexico took the significant step of ordering a government closure beginning Friday through Tuesday, while restricting public gatherings, attendance at soccer matches, and requiring the closure of restaurants, schools and museums.
In response to the growing global endangerment, World Health Organization Director General Dr. Margaret Chan increased the health threat to Level 5, just below the established pandemic level of 6.
Dr Margaret Chan (f): Based on assessment of all available information, and following several expert consultations, I have decided to raise the current level of influenza pandemic alert from phase 4 to phase 5. This change to a higher phase of alert is a signal to governments, to ministries of health and other ministries, to the pharmaceutical industry and the business community that certain actions should now be undertaken with increased urgency, and at an accelerated pace.
VOICE: Many countries around the globe, including China, Russia, Indonesia, Gabon and Ecuador, have banned pork and pork products from Mexico and the US.
Dr. Michael Gregor, Director of Public Health and Animal Agriculture at the Humane Society of the US and author of Bird Flu: A Virus of Our Own Hatching, explained that factory farms create all the conditions necessary for a pandemic threat.
DR GREGOR(M): The only other time we’ve ever seen a swine flu virus like the one we now face, a triple-hybrid mutant containing both pig, human and birds genes, was on a factory farm in North Carolina in 1998. 5000 breeding pigs crammed together in these metal stalls so tight they can’t even turn around, can barely move. You know we have thousands of animals crowded in these filthy football field size sheds, to lie snout to snout in their own waste, can be a breeding ground for disease. So the only other time we’ve seen a triple-hybrid swine flu virus emerge was on a factory farm, certainly it’s reasonable to speculate and to search for a similar emergence from a factory farming operation in Mexico.
DR GREGOR(M): Breeding pigs in the United States, the vast majority are confined to what are called gestation crates, these metal narrow veal crate like stalls in which they can barely move for months at a time, maybe to take a step forward and back, can’t turn around.
And the reason they cram them in like this is because then you can fit 5, 6 thousand animals in a single facility. And when you do that, with the over crowding, with the sheer numbers, with the stress crippling their immune system, with the filth the virus can live, in the fecal which is decomposing, releasing ammonia, burning their respiratory tracts, predisposing them to infection in the first place. And when there is no sunlight, this is really kind of a “perfect storm” environment for the emergence and spread of these so-called super strains of influenza.
Dr Margaret Chan (f): After all, it really is all of humanity that is under threat during a pandemic.
VOICE: We extend our deepest gratitude, Director General Dr. Chan, Dr. Gregor and all others working to protect the health and well being of people across the globe. We pray for the protection of all and that this situation, despite its tragedies that bring such sorrow, will help awaken humanity to the need to turn to the hygienic, healthy and humane alternative of the plant-based diet.