New Scientist – slaughter doesn’t work

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We’re not the only ones who see vaccination as the best way to stop FMD. New Scientist magazine’s article – Slaughtering animals is no way to stop disease – is quoted below:

The first thing to note is that animal diseases are bound to spread sooner or later. There are several reasons for this. One, intensive animal agriculture is a disaster waiting to happen. Close-quarter conditions make it easy for infections to spread – witness the emergence of H5N1 flu in battery chickens in China. Also, the globalised economy means that people, animals and food travel far more widely than before, and they bring their pathogens with them. To make matters worse, global warming is allowing diseases to flourish in areas they previously could not. …

…Clearly this is no longer a satisfactory way of dealing with animal diseases. It may have worked in the 1950s, when there were fewer opportunities for bugs to spread, but today it is like trying to kill a plague of mosquitoes with a fly swatter.

What is the answer? Simple: routine vaccination. Modern “marker” vaccines exist that allow scientists to distinguish between animals that are vaccinated and animals with the disease. The Italians are already using one for bird flu. Encouragingly, the European Commission is recommending much broader use of vaccination as part of the new animal health strategy it is proposing.

Of course vaccinating and monitoring will cost money, but that is the price of meat production in the modern world – that is, if you don’t want the countryside blotted by smoke from burning pyres.

Link. From issue 2623 of New Scientist, 29 Sep 2007, page 3.

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