Are Corporate Pig Farms Linked To Swine Flu?

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A Smithfield Foods farm could be linked to the outbreak.

Grist has more…

Is Smithfield Foods, the world’s largest pork packer and hog producer, linked to the outbreak? Smithfield operates massive hog-raising operations Perote, Mexico, in the state of Vera Cruz, where the outbreak originated. The operations, grouped under a Smithfield subsidiary called Granjas Carroll, raise 950,000 hogs per year, according to the company Web site.

On Friday, the U.S. disease-tracking blog Biosurveillance published a timeline of the outbreak containing this nugget, dated April 6 […]

Residents [of Perote] believed the outbreak had been caused by contamination from pig breeding farms located in the area. They believed that the farms, operated by Granjas Carroll, polluted the atmosphere and local water bodies, which in turn led to the disease outbreak. According to residents, the company denied responsibility for the outbreak and attributed the cases to “flu.” However, a municipal health official stated that preliminary investigations indicated that the disease vector was a type of fly that reproduces in pig waste and that the outbreak was linked to the pig farms. It was unclear whether health officials had identified a suspected pathogen responsible for this outbreak.

Now, as anybody who has ever passed by a corporate pig farm will tell you, they’re awful, awful, places. And often, they have these open-pit lagoons of pig feces that literally just sit there and allow any type of nastiness to breed in it. That includes drug resistant strains of staph infection and other forms of super bacteria that literally feed on the medication that was once used to stop it. And too often these lagoons aren’t properly protected and the waste gets into rivers and other water supplies. Disgusting stuff.

And, by the way, if you think I’m picking on Smithfield Foods, I’m not. Their record is atrocious when it comes to waste management, and if it resulted in the current outbreak you can be sure there will be hell to pay when this all shakes out.

More as it develops…