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FAO has issued a new warning to the international community that the H7N9 and H5N1 avian influenza viruses continue to pose serious threats to human and animal health, especially in view of the upcoming flu season.
...“We need keep our eyes on the bigger picture of promoting healthy food systems, especially when it comes to animal production and marketing,” ...Restructuring can create healthier, safer markets by developing facilities that employ proper food safety and hygiene measures....”
Bird flu viruses could re-emerge in upcoming flu season
Many zoonotic disease outbreaks can be traced to concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFOs), also known as factory farms.
…"Factory farming systems contribute to disease outbreaks in several ways: …They keep animals in cramped and often unsanitary quarters, providing a breeding ground for diseases; they feed animals grain-heavy diets that lack the nutrients needed to fight off disease and illness; and many CAFOs feed animals antibiotics as a preventative, rather than a therapeutic, measure, causing the animals--and the humans who consume them--to develop resistance to antibiotics."
For years, the public health community has warned about the risks of intensive livestock confinement. In 2003, the American Public Health Association called for a moratorium on concentrated animal feeding operations. In 2008, the Pew Commission on Industrial Farm Animal Production, which included a former U.S. Secretary of Agriculture, concluded that industrialized animal agriculture posed “unacceptable" risks to public health. A key recommendation was the phasing out of extreme confinement practices such as gestation crates, which “induce high levels of stress in the animals and threaten their health,” the commissioners wrote, “which in turn may threaten human health."
The looming zoonotic danger
New Report on Zoonotic Diseases Highlights Dire Consequences of Intensive Farming Practices on the Health of Animals and People
Although factory farming has been a target of much criticism, it has its defenders. Marie Gramer, a veterinarian at the University of Minnesota, said enclosed farm buildings offer "biosecurity" from pathogens carried by wild animals, including birds and wild pigs.
…The FAO is calling on the international community to be vigilant for any signs of H5N1 and the new H7N9 avian flu. The former has been around for years, but H7N9 was first reported in China only last April.
…Douglas said that avian influenza viruses have the potential to produce a pandemic of human infection.
…Established control methods involve culling -- and vaccinations in the case of the H5N1 virus. But the response must also include tracking where the birds came from and their intended destinations – and ensure that poultry markets adhere to sanitation guidelines.
N.Y. hospital staffs must get flu shot or wear mask
New York is requiring anyone who might come in contact with patients at hospitals and other healthcare facilities to get a vaccine or wear masks during the upcoming flu season, an ambitious effort to control the flu in the places it is known to spread.