The Link Between Animal Feces and Zoonotic Disease Emily Beeler, DVM, MPH Meredith May A nimals add a great deal of enjoyment to our patients’ lives, and pet ownership can lead to lower stress, lower blood pressure, and increased exercise. The single most important step pet owners can take to protect both themselves and their pets is to remove stool daily. Certain infections in pets, such as ascariasis and giardiasis, are easily detected in routine tests on pet feces performed in veterinary clinics. Pathogens Commonly Found in Pets Pets infected with Salmonella or Campylobacter produce stool that is immediately infectious to people or other animals. These pathogens are diagnosed in pets via fecal culture, a test that is not commonly performed unless the pet has diarrhea that is resistant to standard treatment.
Salmonella can infect dogs and cats of all ages via exposure to contaminated pet foods, raw meat, or consumption of prey.4 To date in 2011, five brands of pigs’ ears and taffy-style dog treats have been recalled for potential Salmonella contamination. 5 Feeding raw meat to pets has become popular in the past few years, creating additional risk of Salmonella exposure to humans through direct contact with the meats, contamination of surfaces, or through exposure to infected pets’ feces. Pets become infected when they ingest the cysts in the feces of other animals or drink contaminated water in the environment. 4 In most cats and dogs, just as in humans, infection is usually subclinical, although infected pets can become ill with fever and respiratory, ocular, or neurological signs. June-July 2011 LA County Department of Public Health Rx for Prevention 5 Patient Resource The Problem with Animal Waste Animal stool can contain bacteria and parasite eggs that infect humans and pets. Have your pet’s stool checked regularly by a veterinarian for parasites. Discard pet stool DAILY. Wear gloves or cover hands with a waterproof bag when removing stool.
While government regulation and better waste management practices can make a difference and should be encouraged for existing farms, the problem of livestock waste will never end so long as we rely on concentrated industrial farms to produce our food. What’s more, animal feeding operations annually produce about 100 times more manure than the amount of human sewage sludge processed in US municipal wastewater plants. At farms where animals are allowed to graze on pasture, much – if not all – of their manure is excreted directly onto the land, serving as a fertilizer and recycling nutrients back into the soil. On industrial livestock farms animals drop their manure in the houses where they live. Since manure is produced on factory farms in excess of what can safely be absorbed by the farm’s soil, it is often shipped to neighboring farms for use as fertilizer.
Under the current system of animal production there is always more manure available than can possibly be absorbed by the soil as fertilizer. People often believe that animal manure is harmless, but in truth it can be quite hazardous. Manure from leaky lagoons or saturated farm fields has also been known to enter public water sources and infect humans. Among the many nutrients usually present in high concentrations in animal waste are phosphorous and nitrogen, which are beneficial to the soils when the manure is added in small concentrations. The storage of animal waste under industrial livestock facilities and in manure tanks also poses a direct health risk to both animals and humans.
What’s more, manure pits have been known to claim the lives of farm workers, and between 1992 and 1997 at least twelve workers died due to asphyxiation by manure gases and drowning while trapped in manure lagoons. What You Can Do. It’s clear that the best way to deal with industrial agriculture’s mountains of manure is to de-concentrate the animals and likewise de-concentrate their waste.
Iowa Farmer Reveals What Happened to His Pigs after Being Fed GMO Corn
Something unexpected happened that changed his viewpoint, and his farming style, completely. Immediately, the Iowa farmer started witnessing a shocking side effect – reproductive issues in his pigs. After a year of these fake pregnancies, the farmer deducted that it must be the GMO corn that was causing reproductive issues in pigs, a side effect that Professor Emeritus of Plant Pathology Dr. Don Huber of Purdue University warned about as a possibility in his research. Rosman realized the corn was the problem too late, and even though he tried switching the feed, the pigs were not in the shape to reproduce again, and he ended up losing the farm.
Today, he warns other farmers about the risks of switching GMO crops, and consults small farming operations on organic farming. Researchers in Baylor University in Texas published a peer reviewed study linking the pseudo pregnancy problem to GMO corn, Jerry said. From experiments in their lab, these researchers found compounds in GMO corn that are most likely responsible for reproductive problems. Some are more obvious like corn oil, corn sugar, corn syrup, and modified corn starch. Scientists in Austria tested GMO corn by feeding it to mice for 20 weeks, a much longer total than the often-criticized 90 day testing standard used in the United States.
In Denmark, an account of stillborn pig births after consuming GMO food was published in 2012 by a farming newspaper, Effektivt Landbrug. Farmer farmer Ib Borup Pedersen’s story was seen as strikingly similar to Rosman’s, only with a happier ending: he switched to non-GMO soy for his sows and found that their health improved dramatically, to the point where drug costs were greatly reduced. Meanwhile in the U.S., GMOs are widely used in almost everything we eat, and GMO corn is given in large amounts to factory farmed livestock in order to fatten them up quickly before they are sent to be slaughtered.