A Warning from the Chickens of the World

| July 22, 2020 | Leave a Comment

Item Link: Access the Resource

Media Type: Article - Recent

Date of Publication: July 8

Year of Publication: 2020

Publication City: Toronto, ON, Canada

Publisher: The Walrus

Author(s): David Waltner-Toews

Categories: , , , ,

How our reliance on mass-produced food increases the risk of pandemics

In 1997, Lam Hoi-Ka, a previously healthy three-year-old boy, died of multiple organ failure in Hong Kong. When a team of virologists from the Netherlands declared that the death-dealing agent had been H5N1, a virus that was previously known to infect only birds, scientists were shocked. The theoretical possibility of a deadly global pandemic, similar to the 1918 flu that killed millions of people, was suddenly made real.

While scientists from around the world urgently tracked down the origins and initial spread of the new virus, the rest of us watched the television images of people in hazmat suits. What made these images confusing and alarming were the stories that accompanied them. In Hong Kong, a chicken-adapted virus had jumped directly to a person. For most people, chickens were “healthy, low-fat” meat you bought in plastic packages at the grocery store, not agents of mass death.

Read the full report here.

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