The Next Pandemic: A meaty issue

Covid-19 discussion, bring your own statistics
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sTeamTraen
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Re: The Next Pandemic: A meaty issue

Post by sTeamTraen » Tue Sep 15, 2020 8:50 pm

If I understand Nezumi correctly, farmed meat is less likely to be a problem than exotic wild creatures.

I have been unimpressed by the claims of the more militant wing of veganism that COVID-19 proves we should stop consuming animal products forthwith. I have a lot of time for vegans and don't eat meat every day, but it is completely unrealistic to imagine that the majority of the world's population is going to renounce goat or sheep or chicken meat as an important source of protein and in many cases a culturally important thing. I also wonder if one can make better use of some shapes of land (eg, much of central Wales) than turning grass and gorse into sheep.
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Bird on a Fire
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Re: The Next Pandemic: A meaty issue

Post by Bird on a Fire » Tue Sep 15, 2020 9:33 pm

sTeamTraen wrote:
Tue Sep 15, 2020 8:50 pm
If I understand Nezumi correctly, farmed meat is less likely to be a problem than exotic wild creatures.
Wild animals may generally be the original source of novel zoonoses, but these viruses typically move between wild and farmed animals very readily.

As I noted above, most of the other near-miss pandemics (mostly flus) have been strongly associated with farming. The densities alone are a factor, along with specific husbandry practices etc.
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nezumi
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Re: The Next Pandemic: A meaty issue

Post by nezumi » Wed Sep 16, 2020 8:41 pm

Bird on a Fire wrote:
Tue Sep 15, 2020 9:33 pm
sTeamTraen wrote:
Tue Sep 15, 2020 8:50 pm
If I understand Nezumi correctly, farmed meat is less likely to be a problem than exotic wild creatures.
Wild animals may generally be the original source of novel zoonoses, but these viruses typically move between wild and farmed animals very readily.

As I noted above, most of the other near-miss pandemics (mostly flus) have been strongly associated with farming. The densities alone are a factor, along with specific husbandry practices etc.
I think the key here is the transmission factor is still human incursion, the farmed animals are just the vector, the reservoir and the birthing pool. If we* weren't putting animals in crowded pens right in the middle of jungles we* just colonised the problem would be less urgent.

There are two main groups that cause disease, to my mind, diseases that have co-evolved with us and our animal slaves/familiars/companions/cupboard lovers and ones that are entirely novel. This is obviously not exclusive - there are loads that break this general observation, but entirely novel diseases like Ebola or Hantavirus cause absolute messy havoc but are quite hard to pass on, huge death tolls but they don't get too far cos they either kill the host too quick or they need some obscure transmission method like blood in the eyes or something. Diseases that have been with us for a long time have developed to be successful viruses to humans and our animals, simply because viruses that pass more effectively between us were more likely to survive, evolutionary pressure is also on their lethality, downwards. Hosts that live longer serve you better.

Outliers like the 1918 pandemic flu, swine flu, coronavirus and so on only have the power to kill us** because our entire system is a precariously stacked house of cards, something like hantavirus getting respiratory would actually be doomsday (I use, of course, the standard definition of doomsday as "more than 30% of everyone, dead, horribly and gorily while wild dogs roam the streets eating unburied corpses")

So I'd say yes to both of you but it's a bit more complicated than that. And I could go on for HOURS.

* OK, this is primarily, sadly a third world problem. We can have problems here in the west with bovine TB and prion diseases so we're not exempt from bad-practice charges, but the fact that the UK at least has systematically obliterated its wildlife for generations means there's none to be a reservoir. This makes us very bad, regardless.

** With me it also has chronic health problems but for everyone the whole world has the potential to just disintegrate. I'm not saying it will.

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