The Avian Flu Outbreak Should Be Your Wake-Up Call

Posted on by Dan H

The current avian flu outbreak is worsening, and Australia has already seen the transmission of the virus to a human. A highly pathogenic strain of bird flu has now been detected on five Victorian farms, and 500,000 chickens have been killed as a result.

What Is Avian Flu?

Avian flu is the disease caused by avian influenza type A viruses. The highly pathogenic H7N3 strain of bird flu has now been detected in Australia.

Has Avian Flu Spread to Other Animals?

Avian flu infections have been detected in various species, from wild birds (including penguins in Antartica) to mammals such as cows, cats, dogs, marine mammals, and humans.

The ad, which depicts a baby penguin running from a giant fork, reads “Eat a Chicken and The Penguin Gets It. Factory Farms Are Incubators for Deadly Diseases Which Are Killing Wild Birds”.

Is Avian Flu Fatal?

Infections in birds are often fatal. In cows, avian flu seems to cause mild symptoms, including a low-grade fever and a drop in milk production. In humans, the virus may cause mild symptoms such as conjunctivitis but can result in severe illness or even death.

How Is Avian Flu Spreading to Other Animals?

In the US, a farmworker who contracted the virus had close contact with cows used by the dairy industry. But how did the animals contract the virus in the first place? One possibility is that farmers fed the cows “poultry litter” – a mix of faeces, feathers, spilled feed, and bedding materials – scraped from the floors of farm buildings confining infected chickens and turkeys.

Mutations are a global concern. Since poultry litter is commonly used to feed pigs on farms overseas, there are concerns that avian flu may spread to pigs, leading to mutations that would make it easier for it to jump to humans.

Mammals who aren’t kept on farms have also contracted the virus, either by eating infected wild birds or consuming water or food contaminated by their faeces. In Ottawa, Canada, health officials reported that a companion dog died of avian flu after chewing on an infected goose. The virus can also spread easily among wild birds and chickens kept in backyards.

Several egg-laying hens poke their necks out of the battery cages they are confined to at a chicken egg farm in Australia.Photo: Seb Alex | We Animals Media

Is It Safe to Eat Meat, Eggs, and Dairy During the Avian Flu Outbreak?

The only way to ensure that you aren’t eating infected flesh or secretions is not to eat them at all. In the dairy industry, not all cows are tested for viruses. A cow could have symptoms but not appear to be unwell. Moreover, pasteurisation and ultra-pasteurisation processes aren’t always effective at eliminating viruses. Meat, egg, and dairy farms and slaughterhouses create conditions that are breeding grounds for diseases that can mutate and turn into outbreaks which can spread to humans.

It doesn’t matter whether meat is cooked to a certain temperature or if eggs, milk, cheese, or yoghurt are pasteurised. There’s no reason to continue eating animal-derived foods. Some of the many reasons to go vegan include the following:

  • Every animal is someone. Chickens, cows, pigs, and other animals are thinking, feeling individuals who deserve to live in peace.
  • In the egg industry, male chicks are ground up while they’re still alive because they’re considered “useless”.
  • The meat, egg, and dairy industries damage the planet. Going vegan is the best way to slow the climate catastrophe.
  • Your risk of suffering from heart disease, diabetes, cancer, and other ailments decreases when you go vegan.
  • You’re at a much higher risk of contracting foodborne pathogens such as E coli and salmonella if you eat animals.

Who’s Responsible for the Spread of Avian Flu?

Humans can’t ignore the link between what we eat and outbreaks of diseases such as avian flu and COVID-19. Cramming animals onto farms for their flesh, eggs, and udder secretions leads to illness.

Farmers confine chickens, cows, pigs, and other animals to cramped cages or faeces-ridden sheds where pathogens flourish. They’re transported in filthy lorries and slaughtered on killing floors soaked with blood, urine, and other bodily fluids.

All animal agriculture facilities, even farms that use deceptive labels such as “free-range” and “organic” are breeding grounds for new strains of dangerous bacteria and viruses.

Need Help Going Vegan? We’ve Got You Covered

From deadly viruses to the bushfires and rainforest blazes fuelled by the climate catastrophe, it’s clear that eating animals has near-apocalyptic consequences. The best thing you can do for your own health and the world we live in is to live vegan.

If you aren’t already vegan, take the first step towards helping animals, protecting the environment, and boosting your health by ordering PETA’s vegan starter kit.