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Got swine flu? Don't blame vegetarians, or the pigs

By Bonnie Erbe, Thomas Jefferson Street blog. — April 29, 2009

While the world is agog over international transmission of the swine flu, let me take this teachable moment to remind people, animals bite back. Factory farming of pigs led to this latest swine flu epidemic, which is threatening to turn into a pandemic. No, people don't get swine flu from eating pork. But the disease is transmitted to humans, usually, via humans (pig farmers) who work with the animals:

Scientists are still struggling to determine how the virus was first passed from pigs to people. Pigs have receptors in their respiratory tracts that make them susceptible to strains of bird and human flu, which can then mutate to create a new virus, as they apparently have in this case, said Joan E. Nichols, an infectious-disease expert and associate director of the Galveston National Laboratory at the University of Texas Medical Branch.

"We consider them the mixing pot… They're a great source to generate something new," she said. "People who work with the pigs can also catch it."

People should not be eating animals, IMHO, and in the opinion of a growing number of Americans vegetarians and vegans. Every so often Mother Nature takes an opportunity to remind us that eating animals and/or factory farming eventually bite us back.

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