The author of a pioneering new book on animals and public health, published this month, claims that “as long as factory farms exist; we will continue to be at risk from bird flu”.
Dr Aysha Akhtar, the author of Animals and Public Health: Why treating animals better is critical to human welfare, considers that while Bird Flu is currently receiving much attention owing to recent deaths in Vietnam and its potential use in bio-terrorism “We don't need a terrorist to wreak havoc. By confining billions of animals on factory farms, we have created a worldwide natural laboratory for the rapid development of a deadly and highly infectious form of the virus. The stressful and crowded conditions make a perfect breeding ground for new infectious diseases that can harm humans." The book reveals how the connection between how we treat animals and human health goes beyond bird flu, however. "A significant number of the most urgent health issues we face today are intricately linked with poor treatment of animals.”
In a lively manner, the book describes the link between the way we treat animals and human health across a wide range of health topics. She reveals how the treatment of animals is related to issues as diverse as domestic violence, the obesity epidemic, the world's most ominous infectious diseases, animal attacks, high-profile drug failures and climate change.
Aysha Akhtar, M.D., M.P.H., is a neurologist and public health specialist and a Fellow of the Oxford Centre for Animal Ethics. She works for the Office of Counterterrorism and Emerging Threats of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. The book is written in her personal capacity and is the result of many years of scientific research.