FAO’s Animal Production and Health Division: Pigs and Public Health Risks
A number of risks to human health arising from the pig production chain must be considered. Close contact between people and their animals, inevitable in all production systems, provides opportunities for pathogens to cross from pigs to humans and vice versa. Special attention must be given to viruses with pandemic potential such as Influenza A, which have been shown to exploit the pig as a mixing vessel from which new recombinants can emerge. The widespread use of antibiotics, especially in the commercial pig sector, creates problems of antibiotic residues in pork products and leads to concerns regarding the consequent development of antibiotic resistance. The consumption of unsafe pork carries a series of risks. Food poisoning resulting from Escherichia coli or Salmonella ssp. Is not confined to any particular production system and is therefore a global concern. Another concern is the emergence of pathogens of increased virulence such as some strains of Streptococcus suis, which cause severe illness and even death in humans. To reduce the health threats of pork consumption, food-safety measures must be implemented. All along the production chain from making pig feed to the processes of slaughter, processing and retail, there are critical control points that must be addressed to achieve acceptable levels of consumer protection. Regulated slaughter processes and mandatory meat inspection before pork becomes available to the public are efficient measures, but they are difficult to implement in the context of subsistence-driven pig production. Awareness-raising, public education as to the main risks and simple measures to prevent negative impacts on human health must be seen as priorities.
Can Any Animal Be a Therapy Animal?
Dogs once cornered the market on being therapy pets, but now bunnies, pigs – even llamas – are making their way into the laps and hearts of people with a range of conditions. Experts say some animals are more therapeutic than others. Pet Partners does not allow exotic or wild animals, either. Unlike service animals, therapy animals don’t help their owners perform tasks and are therefore not protected under the Americans with Disabilities Act. Though there are no national requirements to register therapy animals, most hospitals only allow ones that have been trained, aren’t easily stressed and are covered by an insurance policy. Darin Welker’s village banned residents from keeping fowl in 2010, but the former member of the National Guard insists that his 14 ducks are therapy animals. Nutmeg and Clovis are the 4-and-a-half-year-old therapy bunnies that live on the 13th floor of NYU Langone Medical Center. Lori Gregory volunteers her llama, Rojo, through MTN Peaks Therapy Llamas and Alpacas, taking him to visit hospice patients and children who have mental and emotional problems. Dogs are the only type of therapy animal allowed to see patients at the Mayo Clinic, according to the Rochester, Minnesota hospital’s animal therapy coordinator, Jessica Borg. Borg said some patients who are unwilling to get out of bed for physical therapy jump up when she’s walking by with a dog, eager for a cuddle. The pups were part of Lutheran Church Charities’ K-9 Comfort Dogs, which has 60 dogs that travel the country to help patients in need. Former Marine Corps Lance Cpl. Lyndon Ortiz helped start a veteran’s program Heavenly Hooves, a volunteer group that provides equine-assisted therapy.
Salmonella Outbreak Traced Back to Pet Guinea Pigs
The likely source of the outbreak has been traced back to pet guinea pigs, according to Tuesday’s announcement. The strain of salmonella bacteria was traced to pet guinea pigs, though the individual salmonella cases were spread across eight different states. Four of seven patients that the CDC interviewed reported that they were in contact with guinea pigs within a week of experiencing their initial symptoms. Genome sequencing revealed that the strain of bacteria that caused the multistate outbreak was similar to bacteria that was collected from a sick person’s pet. Pet rodents can carry and transmit salmonella, though humans usually contract the infection by eating or drinking contaminated food or water. People infected with salmonella experience symptoms that include diarrhea, fever, and abdominal cramps and the person infected will likely show signs of salmonella 12-72 hours after handling an infected guinea pig. According to the CDC, if you have pet guinea pigs, you should take extra precautions to thoroughly wash your hands after you handle the guinea pigs or clean their cages. The CDC also stresses the importance of playing with the guinea pigs carefully so that you won’t get bitten. Keep guinea pig food and water bowls out of kitchens where food is prepared. Tell your health care provider if you experience any of the symptoms after handling a guinea pig in order to ensure prompt treatment. Guinea pigs can make great pets, but as with all pets, it’s important to understand the diseases they can carry and take steps to protect yourself. Your local animal shelter, animal rescue, and even your local pet store will likely take in unwanted pet rodents to find them new homes.