Animal Aid

Name Your Poison

Posted 25 September 2007

As Foot and Mouth continues to spread, several other diseases have been affecting farmed animals and those who consume them. This week, Q fever, Bluetongue and resistant E. coli have all been found in Britain.

Q fever has infected 28 people in the Cheltenham area, with most requiring hospital treatment. Those suffering its effects can develop severe flu-like symptoms such as high fever, headaches and muscle pains. The bacterial infection can be transmitted to people who have close contact with infected animals or drink their milk. It can also be inhaled. In the past, people working at meat processing plants have contracted Q fever.

Bluetongue has reached our shores after affecting animals across Africa and Europe. This insect-borne virus has now infected two cows in Suffolk. They have been killed. Symptoms of the disease include flu-like symptoms, and swelling and haemorrhaging in and around the mouth and nose. While some infected animals can recover and become immune to the virus, milk productivity in dairy cows wanes. There is no cure, no vaccine and little can be done to stop its spread.

And, as if this was not bad enough, a strain of E. coli that is deadlier than MRSA is believed to kill 3,000 people a year in England and Wales. ESBL E. coli, which is resistant to most antibiotics, is caught from eating infected meat.

Despite farmers claiming that bio-security measures are stringently enforced, seven cases of Foot & Mouth have now been confirmed in the south of England. Tests continue at other farms where the disease is suspected. To date, 1800 cows have been ‘culled’ in this outbreak.

Overseas, Avian Influenza (Bird flu) continues to infect birds and people alike. Recent outbreaks in Vietnam, Indonesia, China, Nigeria and Ghana have led to the deaths of tens of thousands of birds. More than 325 people have died from bird flu since 2003.

There has never been a better time to go meat-free.
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