Global animal health organization says pigs should be housed in groups · A Humane Nation
Photo by The HSUS. The World Organization for Animal Health, an international body that sets standards for animal health in international trade, says that sows should be housed in groups because they are social animals. On May 24th, veterinary delegates to the World Organization for Animal Health in Paris, which has 181 member countries, voted to include a new chapter on the welfare of pigs in the organization’s Terrestrial Animal Health Code. The code is not binding on member countries, but recommendations may be used as a basis for animal welfare legislation, and are referenced as an authoritative source of animal welfare information by governments. In many of these member countries, industrial farming is rising sharply, but animal welfare is still a new concept.
In 2016, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations estimated that more than half of the nearly 1.5 billion pigs in the world are raised in intensive production systems, including gestation crates, which are cages so small that the animals cannot even turn around. The chapter further advises that animal handlers be trained and skilled, and that daily animal inspections be conducted. The chapter recommends the pigs be provided with environmental enrichment, such as straw bedding, allowing them to perform their natural foraging and rooting behavior. Humane Society International contributed to the development of the draft chapter through our membership in the International Coalition for Animal Welfare, the official body of animal protection organizations recognized by the OIE. A number of nations, including New Zealand, Israel, India, Sweden and the United Kingdom, have banned gestation crates and their use is restricted in the European Union and Canada.
The industry is phasing out their continual use in South Africa and Australia, and in Brazil, one of the world’s largest pork producers and exporters, HSI has worked with many of the country’s most prominent producers to move the industry toward group housing for sows, which is more humane. Stateside, the Humane Society of the United States has helped grocers, restaurants, hospitality and food service retailers and other corporations enact purchasing policies that don’t allow gestation crates. We have led successful campaigns to pass legislation banning or phasing out the use of gestation crates in 10 states, and in California, we are poised to place a measure on the November 2018 ballot that would end the intensive confinement of breeding sows, hens and calves and the sale of products that come from these animals. The market is shifting toward higher welfare systems and failing to keep up serves neither the animals nor the farmers.
Polluting Pigs Hit Again Over Air Emissions in Iowa
Imagine settling into an idyllic country locale only to have a polluting pig CAFO move in next door. Living near a CAFO can be like being held prisoner in your home, unable to go outside because the air has been tainted. In one of the latest cases, Iowa residents are suing the Iowa Department of Natural Resources over noxious air emissions being released by local CAFOs. In December 2017, four residents of northeast Iowa petitioned the state’s DNR, asking them to regulate emissions from CAFOs. While Iowa code requires CAFOs to retain its manure prior to disposal, the petition noted that the CAFOs are venting manure-laden air into the surrounding environment 24/7:1.
The petition cited research by Jillian Fry of Johns Hopkins University, which noted the health and environmental risks posed by CAFOs and the inability of state agencies to address the related public health concerns. The next step for the residents was to file a lawsuit asking for regulation of the emissions, in particular because the area is now home to CAFOs raising some 25,000 pigs all within 5 miles of an elementary school. If left as is, the resulting fumes would kill the animals, so the CAFOs use fans to blow the toxic air out of the building – and into the surrounding communities. While Iowa regulates CAFO manure in liquid form, this doesn’t cover the manure particles found in CAFO air emissions, which aren’t regulated. For children, living near the state’s many CAFOs can pose serious health consequences.
She’s right to be concerned, as a number of studies have looked into the effects of CAFO air emissions on schools and children’s health, with disturbing findings. The simplest solution to the complex problems created by CAFOs is to turn away from the CAFO model entirely and toward the much more sustainable, humane and healthier grass fed model.
VIRUS. The virus is named after the Malaysian village where it was first discovered and belongs to Henipavirus. RESERVOIR. Fruit bats of the Pteropus species have been identified as natural reservoirs of the Nipah Virus. The NiV is highly contagious among pigs and is spread by coughing.
In previous epidemics, humans were infected with NiV only through close contact with infected pigs. Transmission of the virus to humans may occur after direct contact with infected bats, infected pigs, or from other NiV infected people. Human-to-human transmission of NiV has been reported in recent outbreaks in India and Bangladesh, demonstrating a risk of transmission of the virus from infected patients to healthcare workers through contact with infected secretions, excretions, blood or tissues. Wire screens can help prevent contact with bats when pigs are raised in open-sided pig sheds. Preventive strategies include interventions to prevent farm animals from acquiring NiV eating fruit contaminated by bats.
Nipah virus which commonly affects animals such as bats, pigs, dogs, horses can spread from animals to humans and can sometimes cause serious illness among humans. Spread of Nipah virus to humans may occur after close contact with other Nipah infected people, infected bats, or infected pigs. Bat secretions laden with virus can infect people during fruit tree climbing, eating/handling contaminated fallen fruits or consuming raw date palm sap/juice or toddy. Persons with direct contact with sick pigs or their contaminated tissues, persons in close contact with a Nipah virus affected deceased during burial or cremation rituals or health care workers having direct contact with probable or confirmed cases without using standard precautionary measures are also at a high risk of developing the infection.