Saturday, May 2, 2009

A Plague on Both Your Houses

First, a disclaimer - other than the title this post has nothing to do with houses.

In the Great Plague of London (1665) somebody came to the conclusion that cats were the cause of the plague. I heard somewhere that it was believed that witches traveled in the guise of cats, so the natural conclusion would be that cats/witches brought the Plague. As a preventive measure the cats of London were killed. According to this site the author Daniel Dafoe estimated that 200,000 cats were killed along with 40,000 dogs.

Of course, cats/witches didn't carry the Plague. Fleas did - fleas that rode on the backs of rats. With the cats gone, the rats flourished and so did the fleas. The Plague accelerated.

Fast forward 344 years.

Egypt has ordered the slaughter of all its pigs. In this NPR story I learned that some neighborhoods use pigs to dispose of their garbage. Great idea, using the pigs to eat their garbage. But with all the pigs gone, what will they do with the garbage? What about the flies? Yes, I'm sure there are flies with the pigs too, but all cultures will have livestock. There will be flies. Having a huge pile of food waste building up isn't going to help the situation.

Doesn't it seem more likely that flies carry what what is now called the H1N1 virus? Flies FLY for heaven's sake! How is a pig going to efficiently spread a virus? We know the flu isn't food borne. So it's not the pigs, it's the flies. And the origin must have been the flies from the disgusting factory farms in Mexico owned by Smithfield Foods, recipient of the third largest civil penalty ever levied under the federal Clean Water Act.

Can we not learn a lesson or two once every 344 years? Can we place the blame where it lies -not on the poor pigs but on Smithfield Foods? Can we not end the practices of factory farming and treat fellow creatures with respect?


Just A Girl And Her Craftsman Bungalow said...

love this. yes. You are right.
Sorry I've been so out of touch I'm in wedding madness.

Jayne said...

Well said. Very well said. Here we're dealing with people who are trying to get their doctors to prescribe them antibiotics when they're perfectly healthy, with the thinking that it will ward off H1N1. Good grief.

Why S? said...

Hey Girl. That's right, May is your wedding month! Can you believe it's here already?

Thanks, Jayne. But don't get me started on the out of control antibiotics.

Rebecca said...


The flu is spreading by human-to-human contact (coughing, sneezing), not by contact with flies.


Go ahead and kill flies if you like, but please don't defend illogic with even worse illogic.


Jennifer said...

I'd love an end to factory farming! Nothing worse than that.

Why S? said...

Hi Becca. Thanks for visiting The House on Red Hill. I never suggested, nor would I suggest that we kill flies. I admit that it was inappropriate for me to suggest that flies are transmitters of the current virus. But creating unsanitary conditions that encourage flies, whether in Egypt or in Mexico, only sets the stage for future plagues. I do believe it is reasonable to consider that flies may have been involved in the mutation from an avian strain. It's widely accepted that ground zero for the h1n1 was the area of the Smithfield farms. The virus didn't just suddenly appear from nowhere, ready to be passed along from human to human starting with a single human. It had to have evolved from a pre-existing virus. I am not a biologist so I don't have the vocabulary for this. But I am convinced that we are all in this as a unified organism and as our species continues to do violence to the planet and to other species (and other cultures) we will pay the price in one way or another. Our actions have consequences. The organism will demand balance.

Jenni said...

CNN reported yesterday that they ( whomever, "THEY" is) think a Pig actually caught the flu from a human.

Things around here are not so crazy and have settled down since the big H1N1 event here last week. The TV crews passing out masks for their reports have gone home.

NV said...

The bottom line: humans are STUPID. I'm so with you on this. I heard that somewhere in Asia was going to kill all its pigs, too. Good grief!

Why S? said...

Jennifer, as vegetarians you and I are doing all we can about the factory farms.

Jenni, I'm glad to hear you escaped the virus. It sounds like they were hyping their news with the masks. Or maybe they had your best interests at heart.

NV, you're right. That's the bottom line. Humans are stupid. We're doing everything we can as fast as we can to wipe our own stupid selves off this planet. Speaking of, is your mom enjoying her show (After Us???)on Discover? Maybe I'll catch it on DVD.