AVIAN INFLUENZA: keeping birds indoors prevents pandemics

The historical facts tell us that already between the 9th and 12th centuries there are reports (generally reported in the chronicles of monasteries) of the spread of serious illnesses characterised by high fever, respiratory system involvement and high mortality, probably related to influenza.

More precise historical documentation can be found from the 14th century onwards.

Giovanni Villani describes a severe influenza epidemic that occurred in Italy and France in 1323.

Subsequently, other epidemics occurred, in 1358 and 1387 in Italy; in 1414, 1438 and 1482 in France; and between 1517 and 1551 in the British Isles, which were hit by several waves of high mortality.

Three serious pandemics were reported in the 16th century, in 1510, 1557 and 1580.

In the 17th century, the epidemics of 1688, 1693 and 1699 are remembered. Among those of the 18th century, two were particularly intense: that of 1729-1730 (called the ‘Russian disease’, probably because it originated in that country) and that of 1782, which spread from China throughout Europe, hitting the city of London particularly hard.

The 19th century was characterised by numerous influenza epidemics from the early years (1800-1803). A severe pandemic spread from China between 1830 and 1833, affecting about a quarter of the world’s population. In the following years, frequent epidemic events struck humanity until the great pandemic of 1889-1892, which most likely originated in Asia and spread rapidly to Europe, the Americas and even Australia.

The three great influenza pandemics of the 20th century (Spanish – 1918; Asian – 1957; Hong Kong – 1968), are recent history and also occurred before the advent of intensive farming, which began to emerge, in limited numbers, from the 1960s.

It is evident that, as long as intensive poultry farming has existed, there have been no flu pandemics (apart from a brief outbreak of H1N1 – swine flu in 2009, which was immediately controlled by vaccination).

Can we therefore assume that intensive livestock farming even plays a role in preventing the passage of influenza viruses from animals to humans, rather than promoting it, as sectarian animal welfare associations have implied?

The next link evaluates the various factors supporting this hypothesis: LINK2


The editorial staff of M.A.C.