Let me begin by saying – you must read this book, Bird Flu: A Virus of Our Own Hatching (Lantern Books, 2006). If not the whole book, which I recommend, then at least read some parts of the book. There is no excuse not to do so as it is offered in its entirety online for free in an easily readable format. Dr. Michael Greger, has written an incredibly well researched (roughly 100 of the 465 pages are references) book. The book consists of five sections, Storm Gathering, When Animal Viruses Attack, Pandemic Preparedness, Surviving the Pandemic and Preventing Future Pandemics with a Forward by Professor Emeritus Kennedy Shortridge, who is credited with discovering the H5N1 (bird flu) virus in Asia.
While I consider myself fairly well versed in the horrors of factory farming, having read much of the prominent literature regarding animal rights and veganism, I found myself underlining informative sentences and gasping paragraph after paragraph with some of the information spilling off the pages. Certainly the description of the zoonotic diseases introduced to humans through the domestication of animals – including Lymes disease, rabies, AIDS and Ebola – was a particularly insightful example of one of the many reasons factory farming is problematic. Obviously bird flu is another example, historically shown to be dangerous to humanity and believed to be on the verge of a pandemic world-wide.
Not only is this book fantastically informative regarding bird flu, but Greger spares no expense in speaking about factory farming methods worldwide, in particular to poultry, but at large as well. Additionally, while Greger never writes, “GO VEGAN!” he most definitely points to those in the health field who have argued against eating meat. Reading extensively about food-borne illnesses in modern meat should certainly opens readers eyes and minds to what other options might be considered.
Greger’s book points to problems in America’s health care system, the pharmaceutical companies, cock-fighting, and live poultry slaughter all in relation to a bird flu outbreak. Time and time again Greger points to the inevitable bird flu pandemic that is going to plague humanity, citing source after source, academic after academic, health official after health official. Though at times the repetition of the inevitable horrors to come, and our own fault in this, becomes exhausting, one can hardly blame Greger with the paltry efforts currently underway to do anything about the beast at our door. Perhaps the author feels that with over one hundred pages of references more people might actually begin to take the threat seriously as apparently the World Health Organization (google World Health Organization and Avian Influenza is the second link you’ll find) and Starbucks (already stockpiling Tamiflu for employees), among other entities, are already doing.
Note: Bird Flu: A Virus of Our Own Hatching was discussed in an earlier post regarding a lecture by Dr. Micheal Greger.