Infected Pig Meat Risks Your Life


Maneka Gandhi


(Bihar Times) Is ebola, which I wrote about last week, the only disease that pigs are currently suffering from? No. As I write this, a highly infectious swine virus is sweeping China’s pig population. The mysterious virus — believed to cause an unusually deadly form of an infection known as blue-ear pig disease, (which is also known as porcine reproductive and respiratory syndrome — has spread to 25 of this country’s 33 provinces . The Chinese are again attempting to keep this secret as they did the SARS epidemic of 2002 and Bird Flue and the milk contamination but this one has the immunologists really worried. The Chinese have not allowed any samples to be sent outside for testing to any international body like WHO or FAO. Who knows how much of a human threat it poses.

The only thing the Chinese government acknowledges is that the current virus has devastated pigs in coastal and southern areas and is rapidly moving inland and westward.

No one knows for sure how many of this country’s 500 million pigs have been infected. The government says officially that about 165,000 pigs have contracted the virus this year. But in a country that, on average, loses 25 million pigs a year to disease, few believe the figures. Pork prices have skyrocketed 85% in the last year — an increase that suggests the losses from disease are more widespread than Beijing admits.

International health experts fear the fast-mutating pathogens could spread to neighboring countries, igniting a worldwide epidemic .A similar virus has already been detected in neighboring Vietnam and Myanmar. China exports pork as well.

Is ebola or blue ear virus the only problems that you might get from pork ? Swine fever is one of the most important virus diseases of pigs. The virus is spread from infected or carrier pigs via discharges from the nose, mouth, urine and feces or infected semen and it is highly contagious. The virus survives in frozen carcasses for long periods of time. Classical swine fever is a rapid spreading disease with high mortality. The dead bodies show bloody lymph nodes, dead patches in the spleen, multiple small hemorrhages in the kidneys and "button ulcers" in the gut Rotavirus, coronavirus and coccidia  which causes Coccidiosis  are important viruses, The last causes diarrhea with blood in it and is caused by wet dirty floors. Then there is Escheria coli or E Coli , a virulent bacteria which comes from overcrowding, contaminated feed and feeding equipment. Affected pigs exhibit watery feces and wet tails. They become emaciated and dehydrated. In some cases, the infection may develop so rapidly that death occurs before diarrhea is evident.

Swine dysentery , is caused by a bacterium that causes a severe inflammation of the large intestine with a bloody mucous diarrhea and is common . The survivors will be stunted and can come down with the disease again.

Sarcoptic mange  known as pig scabies is caused by a mite which burrows under the skin. Skin lesions usually start around the head but can progressively spread over the whole body. Chronic mange can develop. The pig rubs and thickens its skin and  develops crusts in the ears.

Another common disease is gastric ulcers , lesions found in the stomach of more than 50 % of pigs. In large piggeries , this is one of the most frequent causes of death.

Most herds are infected  with arthritis . The bacterium is spread by droplet infection and causes lameness and swelling.

Atrophic Rhinitis  which is an inflammation of the tissues inside the nose is very common in all pig herds.

Brucellosis  is a disease is caused by the bacterium Brucella suis and  is widespread through most of the pig rearing world. It is an important disease not least because it can be transmitted to people where it can cause serious illness. A carrier state persists for long periods of time. The symptoms are Infertility, abnormal oestrus , abortions , lameness , swollen/ painful testicles . The bacteria can survive outside the pig for long periods of time 

In 1997 Hepatitis E was found in pigs' livers. Tapeworms exist in all pigs and easily find their way to humans – no matter how you cook the meat. Every pigs carries large white tape worms , red stomach worms, thread worms  and whip worms. Pigs can also get ring worm which can be passed to humans. The symptoms of  a worm infection are coughing , vomiting, blood in faeces ,anaemia and diarrhoea.

These are a few of the 143 diseases carried by a normal pig raised for meat. They have been selected at random – there are many that are much more frightening.

Most farmers and piggery owners kill their pigs when they get a serious illness instead of treating them with medicines which are costly. The meat is then sold to you. Every time you eat pork or bacon, you will definitely get meat which has one or the other of these diseases – if not all of them. What these viruses mutate into in your body is unknown – and governments like China and America will not let it be known as their meat industries are far too powerful for politicians to buck them. In other countries ,  specially India, there are no checkers, no checking laboratories, no interest at all in what the meat animal carries to the human.  No one cares what you die of – including you. The animal husbandry department exists to simply increase the quantity of meat eaten , not the quality. Every time our exported meat is caught with some disease, the government sermonizes the industry for a bit but since no checks are put at any point, these sermons are disregarded.

Are you sure you want to risk your life ?

To join the animal welfare movement contact gandhim@nic.in


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