<$BlogRSDUrl$> The Cyberactivist

Behind the scenes of the fight for the protection of animals and workers and the preservation of the environment - my experiences as a Tyson slaughterhouse hanger/killer turned activist. Exposing the evils of factory farming, by Virgil Butler. If you have arrived here looking for the Tyson stories, view the early archives. Some of them are now featured on the sidebar for easy searching.

Friday, November 28, 2003

Is the "Superflu" coming to you? 

Well, our Tofurkey was wonderful! It
was a bit different from turkey, but still
very good, especially with the "giblet"
gravy that goes with it. I hope you all
enjoyed your Thanksgiving as much as
we did here.

Now, back to business. I read a very
disturbing article this morning. It was
in the San Francisco Chronicle that was
entitled, "Ominous signs of severe flu
outbreak, Doctors say season could be
worst in several years."

Apparently experts are predicting a really
bad problem with the flu this year. They
blame several different things for this
line of thought, including the fact that
people have become more complacent
in the past few years about getting the
vaccines.

Apparently this year they have already had
more positive lab results for the virus than
they usually have in the peak of the flu
season, 171 cases compared to 60, and
it is still early in the season.

There is an ominous quote in the article
from Dr. Roger Baxter, a Kaiser infectious
disease specialist who has been monitoring
this situation:

"It's hard to say exactly what to make of it.
The numbers are truly startling. I think there's
a very large outbreak out there."


He has even done an unprecedented thing:

urging people with coughs and other flu symptoms
to wear a face mask when they visit the doctor's
office.


There have already been 4 children die in
Colorado this year from the flu. We have
several states already experiencing some
problems besides California and Colorado.
It is also widespread in Texas and Nevada.

But the most alarming things I read in this
article were these paragraphs:

Virulent forms of the flu virus may be lurking
in flocks of chickens and ducks, the source
of recent outbreaks in Hong Kong, Canada
and the Netherlands.

Direct poultry-to-human transmission, which
had never been documented before 1997, now
appears to happening with alarming frequency.


Now, in all fairness, they do also say that:
(emphasis mine, as always)

avian flu microbes that have emerged so far
apparently lacked the genetic equipment needed
to spread easily from person to person. But the
virus has a proven knack for changing
unpredictably
into forms that can greatly increase
the danger.


They go on to note that:

There has been a dramatic increase in reported
outbreaks of influenza in birds and other animals
that are the source of the disease-causing
microbes afflicting humans. Given the newfound
ability of certain flu bugs to jump straight from
birds to people, all that's missing for the next
pandemic to start is a pathogen capable of moving
rapidly from person to person.


This got me to thinking about all the many, many
poultry houses around this area and the high
number of people coming in contact with the
chickens raised in them. If this was ever to
break out around here, it would be catastrophic.

What more incentive do we need to quit giving
all these antibiotics to these farmed animals?
We are teetering on the brink of brewing up
a killer bug in these cesspools of disease that
pass for factory farms. How long before the
dreaded "superbug" comes out? Will it be
a variety of the flu? Or something worse?

Who knows? There appears to be agreement
between the experts that we are overdue
for such an occurrence. With the way the
industry has things set up - with all this
concentration of animals in small places - it
is just a matter of time until something
really bad happens to a lot of people.

I know I would feel a lot better if I didn't
live in an area surrounded by chicken
houses where I know that diseases breed.

I find it very interesting that since I quit
working down at Tyson around all those
sick birds they were shipping out to the
unsuspecting public, I have not been
getting sick all the time anymore. In fact,
I have been extremely healthy since I got
out of that hellhole. I used to have a
constantly runny nose, throwing up a lot,
unexplained fevers that would come and go,
and other medical problems. Many of them
I never really noticed until after I was no
longer down there being exposed all the time.

Did you know that I was prohibited from
telling anyone about all the sick chickens
we were running that were making us all
sick? I was threatened with my job for
even telling my doctor, who was treating
me for the illnesses I picked up from the
handling of sick chickens. Luckily, at the
time, my wife spoke up anyway, defying
Tyson to do something about it, and told
the doctor what was going on. Then, he
was able to give me the correct antibiotics
for what I had been exposed to. Of course,
he was appalled that we were running and
shipping sick birds, but he couldn't tell
anyone, either, because of confidentiality
laws. So, Tyson got away with it over and
over again. And still does.......

BTW - this occurred shortly before I lost my
job down there. In fact, it was probably the
illness coming back on me from repeated
exposure to the pathogens that I was sick
with when they fired me. I had missed 2 days
and gotten my doctor's excuse, but of course,
you all know that they didn't even want to see
it. I still have it, though, along with the letter
from the hospital sent by certified mail informing
me that I needed a CAT scan on my sinuses.
Unfortunately for me, that never happened
because I lost my job and insurance that week,
so I still don't know the long-term health effects
I will have to endure from working with such a
high number of infected birds.

Maybe it won't matter if we all die from the
superflu. Maybe Tyson hasn't read or seen
Stephen King's "The Stand." More likely,
though, they just don't care as long as they
are making money.

Meat may be murder in more ways than one.
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