Diseases spread from animals, birds and insects to humans almost every day. Malaria, rabies, and yellow fever are some diseases which prove that human beings aren’t as insulated as we thought. While some of them are common and easily treatable, the same cannot be said for the diseases that cross the animal-human boundary. Pathogens like the infamous influenza - H1N1 aka Swine flu, and most recently the Coronavirus, do not differentiate among species but attack one and all alike. This "equality" makes it difficult to prevent the development of a disease into an epidemic and consequently a pandemic.
Factory farming, or as its also known, intensive animal farming, refers to the practice of rearing animals - poultry, pigs and cattle - using methods that maximize production and minimize costs. Initially considered as effective, it essentially crams a huge number of animals into an exceedingly small space, allowing for the rampant spread of any communicable diseases. When humans consume these animals, they more often than not also consume the pathogen, providing access to the disease to spread even further.
While the idea of epidemics and pandemics emerging from factory farming may seem a little far-fetched, recent history shows that it is in fact true. Swine Flu and Bird Flu emerged from pig and chicken farms respectively.
Annually, millions of animals are bred through such farming techniques and sold in meat markets.
With such staggering numbers, detailed care and inspection of each animal is impossible, which endangers countless lives. Studies have shown that a lack of space, an excess of manure and large amounts of ammonia results in the animals falling sick.
A 2014 survey depicted about 80% of pigs being ill with pneumonia at the time of their slaughter.
Is it then any surprise that factory farming sites turn into a breeding ground for deadly viruses that effectively bring the world to its knees?