• Becci Pigeon

The next pandemic is already on its our abuse of birds represents an even bigger threat

Updated: Jan 20

We wrote recently about the millions of mink on Danish fur farms who were scheduled to be killed to prevent the spread of a new, mutated form of COVID--more innocent victims of our destructive, speciesist agenda. They aren't the only ones, as new varieties of avian flu--which scientists consider the most significant pandemic threat--develop and run rampant. Even in the midst of COVID, we have had multiple outbreaks in Europe. Most recently, 13,000 chickens infected with H5N8 were killed in Cheshire and in Kent, 450 swans, pigeons, chickens and ducks were killed to prevent the spread of another avian flu, H5N2. There is also H7N7, H7N9, H5N6 and more. (Update: on 28 November, 10,500 turkeys were killed. H5N8 continues to spread.)

But none of these is so significant and deadly as H5N1, which kills 60% of the humans infected by it. There were 15,000 outbreaks of it between 2005 and 2018, with 240 million birds either dying from the virus or being killed to prevent its spread. Currently most transmissions have been bird-to-bird or bird-to-human, but the potential for the virus to mutate cannot be overstated, and if it does, says David Nabarro, a senior public health experts at the World Health Organisation, the “range of [human] deaths could be anything between five and 150 million”. (Incidentally, the government raised the risk from bird flu in the UK from medium to high a couple of weeks ago.)

With this threat hanging over our heads, any sensible person would think the solution is simple: stop killing animals. Stop raising and slaughtering 50 billion chickens a year (a number which does not even include 'spent' egg-laying hens and their male chicks, all of whom are killed on the day of their birth). Stop packing these feeling, intelligent animals by the tens of thousands into cramped sheds where they are forced to live in their own waste. Stop deforming their bodies so severely that they frequently die before they are meant to go to slaughter. Just stop. It's infinitely better for the animals and it's better for us too.

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