Pandemics Ahead: Number 4 in a series looking at the link between animal protein and global health disasters.

Excerpt from Meat Climate Change: The 2nd Leading Cause of Global Warming by Moses Seenarine, (2016). Xpyr Press, 348 pages ISBN: 0692641157)

A panzootic is an epizootic or an outbreak of an infectious disease of animals, that spreads across a large region, like a continent, or even worldwide. The equivalent in human populations is called a pandemic. A panzootic can start when three conditions have been met: (a) the emergence of a disease new to the population; (b) the agent infects a species and causes serious illness; and (c) the agent spreads easily and sustainably among animals. 

A disease or condition is not a panzootic merely because it is widespread or kills a large number of animals; it must be infectious as well. Cancer is responsible for a large number of deaths but is not considered a panzootic because the disease is, generally speaking, not infectious.

Cattle plague is a panzootic that recurred throughout history, often accompanying wars and military campaigns. Cattle plague affected Europe especially in the 18th century with three long panzootic from 1709–1720, 1742–1760, and 1768–1786 that devastated thousands of herds. There was a major outbreak covering the whole of Britain in 1865/66. Later in history, an outbreak in the 1890s killed 80 to 90% of all cattle in southern Africa, as well as in the Horn of Africa. A hundred years later, rinderpest outbreak raged across much of Africa in 1982–1984, costing US$500 million in losses.

Avian flu is another zoonotic than can become panzootic. It is feared that if the avian influenza virus combines with a human influenza virus in a bird or a human, the new subtype created could be both highly contagious and highly lethal. 

In 1996, the UK slaughtered 4.4 million cattle to eradicate mad cow disease, while 400,000 were killed in 2001 in Germany. In 2009, Egypt ordered the cull of all pig herds, over 400,000 pigs, to avoid swine flu. In 2014 in the US, seven million piglets, or 10% of piglets born, died due to Porcine diarrhea virus.

In 2014 alone, a list of mass animal deaths contains dozens of incidents across the world. Concerns over avian influenza in South Korea led to 14 million birds being slaughtered in 2014, and 324,000 in China, another 46,000 in North Korea, 112,000 in Japan, 64,000 in Vietnam, 40,000 in Holland, 38,000 in Germany, 20,000 in Hong Kong, and thousands further in Nepal. In northeast China, after 18,000 geese died from H5N6 bird flu, and 69,000 were culled.(1003) 

In Beijing in 2014, 20,000 ducks died suddenly due to avian influenza, while 10,000 chickens died in Malaysia. And in Sweden, 24,000 chickens were slaughtered due to an outbreak of Paramyxovirus type 1 disease. On top of that, in 2014, thousands of chickens died in Indonesia from Boyolali coli disease. Farmers suspect that weather anomalies make their chickens susceptible to the disease.

In June 9, 2015, in excess of 10% of US chickens raised to produce eggs were killed by or because of a highly pathogenic avian influenza virus. The H5N2 virus affected 39 million chickens—at least 33 million of which were laying hens—and 7 million turkeys.(1004)

After the outbreak of BSE in Europe, sanitary regulation required livestock carcasses to be collected from farms, and transformed or destroyed in authorized plants. This generated an unprecedented volume of GHG pollution. In Spain, carcass collection and transport to intermediate and processing plants meant the emission of 77,344 metric tons of CO2 eq. to the atmosphere per year, in addition to annual payments of $50 million to insurance companies. So replacing the ecosystem services provided by scavengers has conservation costs, and unnecessary environmental and economic costs as well.(1005)

Accretionary animal die-offs due to climate change and zoonetic illness in CAFOs will lead to higher CO2 discharges and a larger energy footprint for the industry, making it inefficient and unsustainable to a larger extent. The industry has failed to come to grips with the hazards of extreme weather and climate warming, and is over-using antibiotics on factory farms in a desperate attempt to control disease. Veterinary medicine use is predicted to intensify as disease burdens swell due to varied climate effects.(1006)

Factory farming poses considerable challenges for global warming, environmental and public health, farmers’ livelihoods, and animal welfare. Even as factory farming bears significant responsibility for planetary warming, it also numbers among the industries that will feel the impact of climate change most keenly. Millions of animals die or are culled by animal agribusinesses, and better management can improve livestock survival under climate and disease stress.

A virtues-based approach could improve our thinking and practice regarding animal agriculture, and facilitate a move from livestock production back to animal husbandry. Although of limited value, this approach centers on attentiveness, responsibility, competence, and responsiveness as part of mitigation.(1007)

Chapter 27: PANZOOTIC, page 260.     Previous  |  Home  |  Next

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