Animals with diseases, many of which go undetected, are commonly slaughtered for human consumption. Unfortunately, too little is currently known about how the animals’ ailments could affect human beings.
Besides experiencing psychological distress, slaughterhouse workers are subjected to various physical and biological hazards. An industry article published this week on meatingplace.com illustrates one such scenario: "The mysterious illnesses in Minnesota and Indiana pork plant workers from November 2006 to May 2008 were caused by an autoimmune response to a mist of pig brain tissue." It goes on to explain that workers, especially those stationed closest to what they call the "head table," experienced neurological ailments as a result of being exposed to the "tissue mist" when "compressed air was used to extract pig brains." Still, according to the article, scientists looking into this situation say that the exact biological mechanism of the disease might never be known.
This week yet another industry article I read on the same site reported that "USDA testing has confirmed the first case of H1N1 virus in a U.S. turkey flock." Commonly known as "swine flu," H1N1 is now confirmed as a virus that can infect turkeys, pigs, cats, dogs, ferrets, and people. Like swine flu, bird flu and mad cow disease have also been shown to cross the species barrier. While there are unknowns surrounding these particular diseases we do know that all of them can be fatal to humans.
The factory farming system, which crowds animals by the thousands in filthy, stressful environments, is not only extremely cruel, but creates a breeding ground for diseases that (despite the mysteries yet to be uncovered about them) are increasingly confirmed by science to be as harmful to people as they are to animals.