One and one-half years ago, blogger Aisehman raised the issue of pre-emptive and massive culling exercise of every single pig in our country, when he mentioned WHO raising the possibility that bird flu could mix with a virus carried by pigs, and give rise to another mutated and deadlier progeny.
He asked whether we should consider a total cessation of pig-farming activities, to of course prevent the feared pandemic. He is mindful of the adverse economic cost and cultural impact. He queried whether this might come about, and whether it would be worth the inevitable sacrifices?
I wrote in response:
My belief is that if we select pigs to purge completely from Malaysia, on the basis of viral danger to health, then what should we do about the current problem of Avian Flu?
This is the imminent danger rather than pigs. Does that mean we should also cull all types of fowls (and eggs), and ban Malaysians from indulging in their hobbies of keeping merbok, merpati and various other birds as pets?
The problem with the culling-elimination approach is that we will never ever see a satisfactory conclusion, even if we may end up shooting every bird that dares fly over Peninsula Malaysia, Sarawak and Sabah.
I pointed other viral-health issues in my posting The Pig on Noah's Ark, where I also wrote the following:
Cats are actually big culprits also in the transmission of diseases to humans. The house felines are very susceptible to avian flu virus, as the Eramus Medical Centre in Rotterdam has indicated. Besides avian flu, cats are also known to be susceptible to the SAR Virus.
This viral double jeopardy appears to condemn domestic cats as a real health menace. Some of my friends would be utterly devastated if each of their cute little kitty or pussy had to be immediately put down
What Aisehman has raised is a relevant and important health issue, but I believe the answer lies not in removing any particular species completely, but rather those conditions that promote the development and spread of a pandemic virus.
We can do this by developing and practising good personal hygiene, quarantine control, management of healthy and clean animal farming, and public education. Australia and New Zealand have these procedures and practices in place.
The USA, Canada and UK dealt extremely well with their respective BSE problem, which for the last had been in the magnitude of a national disaster. Their people and the Japanese and Europeans continue to enjoy pork, beef, lamb, fowls, etc without undue fears.
Yesterday the NST reported:
A cat has been found infected with the deadly H5N1 virus in Indonesia, in the first such case in the country.
Steven Bjorge, Medical Officer for Communicable Disease of the World Health Organisation said the cat was infected after having eaten contaminated birds.
“We have evidence from one cat in Indonesia that has already been infected by this virus,” he told Jakarta’s Foreign Correspondents’ Club.
Yesterday’s disclosure came just days after Indonesia confirmed its 38th death from avian influenza caused by the H5N1 virus, placing the country in second place behind Vietnam’s 42 deaths.
I hate to do it but nevertheless I am going to say: “I told you so about those cats!”
Now, do we want to launch a pre-emptive and massive culling exercise of every single cat in our country? Or, is the distinction of complete elimination through culling reserved for pigs only?