The Influenza Virus

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Experts agree that most (and perhaps all) strains of the influenza virus that infect human beings originated from contact with other animals, especially domesticated birds and pigs in Asia (Crawford, 2000: 95). The advent of animal agriculture brought a steady supply of protein to people, but it also increased the transmission of viruses carried by animals, and spurred the evolution of existing viruses. There are several reasons factory farms seem to elevate the risk of novel viral outbreaks—especially variations of avian and swine flu. First, crowding animals together in close confinement can induce stress and suppress their immune systems, raising parasite loads and making animals more susceptible to infections; second, as all of us have

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