“Study Shows Bacteria Moves From Animals to Humans” – New York Times, 27 March 2013

A new study by Britain and Denmark shows that bacteria does indeed move from animals to humans, a claim constantly denied by the agriculture and food industries.

The British and Danish researchers pooled their data from two small Danish farms, and through genetic sequencing, determined that a strain of antibiotic-resistant bacteria was capable of being transmitted from animals to humans. The new report clearly shows the affect and risk that antibiotics have on both livestock and humans alike; this research is, without a doubt, the first of its kind to show a direct connection between animals and humans.

We’ve written and reported on this topic numerous times, as the link between human and animal health becomes a bigger global issue. This month, the American Humane Association is holding their first human-animal health conference in New York, which will focus on the “impact of innovation and technology and their crossover applications for human and animal health.” This is a step in the right direction for everyone involved in human and animal health sectors — consumers, scientists, veterinarians, doctors, hospitals, clinics, animal feeding operations, farmers, drug manufactures, and state, federal and international regulatory agencies  — to identify what can be done to objectively understated and improve the relationship between the human and animal health sectors.

See our previous blogs on this subject also:
Dead Pigs Worry Shanghai
Conference to Examine Transformative Effect of Innovation on Human-Animal Health
Antimicrobial Use and Resistance — NIAA Symposium White Paper Released
Antibiotic-Resistant Bacteria Surround Big Swine Farms in China & US
Farm Use of Antibiotics Defies Scrutiny

Conceived, Developed and Written by Dr. Subodh Das and Tara Mahadevan

April 2, 2013

Fluid Management Systems

Copyright 2013   All rights Reserved by Fluid Management Systems, Inc.

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“Dead Pigs Worry Shanghai” – Wall Street Journal, 12 March 2013

Earlier this month, 3,300 dead pigs were found dead in the Huangpu River, which supplies water to most of Shanghai’s 23 million residents. Chinese authorities have no idea how the pigs died.

Government officials investigated any impact the pigs would have on the river and other local waters, announcing that no health threat in the water existed. However, authorities found the pig-borne disease porcine circovirus in the river, which according to the US CDC, does not affect humans. China’s main meat is pork, which consists of almost half a billion pigs, and the country littered with swine farms that are rife with communicable diseases. An industry expert noted that the dead pigs might be indicative of a disease outbreak from a single farm.

China has had its fair share of pig illnesses. In 2007, around 50 million pigs died from an outbreak of high-fever blue ear disease; and this past January, 948 Chinese pigs had to be killed due to an outbreak of foot and mouth disease.

Additionally, Chinese waterways have been exposed to much pollution. Again this past January, a chemical transporter spewed benzene into a Huangpu River tributary, which caused 20 people to be hospitalized. Earlier this year, Rivers in three northern provinces were also affected due to a chemical spill.

The chemical spills, as well as the mass deaths, are also calling Chinese food safety, environmental and air quality regulations into question. In 2011, China claimed the number one spot as the world’s biggest carbon dioxide polluter, up by 10 percent to contribute 10 billion tons of carbon dioxide emissions to the world’s atmosphere. It is no wonder that China’s air quality caused its residents to become sick, and persuaded many to wear face masks.

In our view, the land where humans and animals live, the water we drink, and the air we breathe constitute environmental quality, and all eventually contribute towards human and animal health and safety. We live in an interconnected global ecosystem that we need to keep clean and safe. China — now the largest country in the world — continues to grow its economy in order to achieve a more western lifestyle, and population, which is currently at 1.3 billion people or one-seventh of the world’s population. China will have to strike a healthy balance between economic growth and environmental harmony that many western economies are already addressing.

See also:
Carbon Pollution up to 2 Million Pounds a Second
Conference to Examine Transformative Effect of Innovation on Human-Animal Health
Antimicrobial Use and Resistance — NIAA Symposium White Paper Released
Antibiotic-Resistant Bacteria Surround Big Swine Farms in China & US

Conceived, Developed and Written by Dr. Subodh Das and Tara Mahadevan

March 28, 2013

Fluid Management Systems

Copyright 2013   All rights Reserved by Fluid Management Systems, Inc.

www.fluidmanagementsystem.com     subodh@fluidmanagementsystem.com

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“Conference to Examine Transformative Effect of Innovation and Technology on Human-Animal Health and Mutual Bond” – Market Watch, 20 March 2013

Several times over the past few months, we have written about the need for a cooperative relationship between the human and animal health sectors, and something is finally being done. The first national conference, “Transforming Human-Animal Health and the Human-Animal Bond through Technology and Innovation”, will be held by the American Humane Association next month in New York, concentrating on the “impact of innovation and technology and their crossover applications for human and animal health.” Specifically, America’s leaders in science, medicine, philanthropy and business will discuss how research can be used to expedite advances in human and animal health, especially through new devices and technology.

The conference will deliberate on “precision-driven, predictive, personalized, preventive, and participatory healthcare” for animals and humans through the utilization of mobile technology. Researchers from both human and animal health fields will come together to analyze evidence of health and disease in our 60,000+ vertebrates species, which will increase and solidify connections and discoveries between human and animal health. Though the agriculture industry vehemently denies any link between animal and human health, several researchers in China found that it is only a question of when diseases and antibiotic resistance will travel from animals to humans.

Technology will also be a great benefit to the conference: technology and crowd sourcing can aid scientists and researchers in identifying health trends and environmental risk factors, allowing for the development of new, personalized medicines for humans and animals alike.

This a very positive move to engage animal and human health practitioners, drug manufactures, regulators, consumer advocates and activists in listening, talking  and  collaborating. Aided by explosive technology growth worldwide, these much needed and overdue activities and dialogue will eventually lead to better health and environment for both animals and humans at minimal societal costs.

See also:
Antimicrobial Use and Resistance — NIAA Symposium White Paper Released
Farm Use of Antibiotics Defies Scrutiny

Conceived, Developed and Written by Dr. Subodh Das and Tara Mahadevan

March 21, 2013

Fluid Management Systems

Copyright 2013   All rights Reserved by Fluid Management Systems, Inc.

www.fluidmanagementsystem.com     subodh@fluidmanagementsystem.com

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“Oral Fluids for Disease Detection Gaining in Popularity” – National Hog Farmer, 4 February 2013

Typically, samples of tissue, blood, feces, and serum are used for most diagnostic tests; however, in the last few years, oral fluids have been used to identify particular pathogens in pigs.

The Iowa State University Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory (ISUVDL) has been using oral fluids from pigs to detect the swine flu virus, among other viruses, and to classify both North American and European strains. Positive results from oral fluids are used as an indicator that such pathogens are present in a group of pigs, rather than disease diagnosis. Sampling oral fluids have become a preferred method for detecting swine flu, as oral fluids are a more sensitive and economical approach over serum sampling, as well as a more animal-friendly system.

Swine influenza virus A (SIV) is widely present in pigs of all ages; but SIV shedding (the infectious period) can be brief, usually taking only 2-3 days. Rather than nasal swabs or tissues, oral fluids have become a better means of identifying pigs that are currently shedding SIV.

ISUVDL has found that idenfitying other viruses using oral fluids, such as porcine reproductive and respiratory syndrome (PRRS), can be better developed by:

1. Attention to details in collecting oral fluids to minimize amounts of feces or feed in the samples;

2. Immediate chilling of the oral fluid sample at collection and maintaining the “cold chain” through the entire submission process; and

3. Choosing samples with the highest concentration of virus for sequencing. Currently, data from the ISUVDL suggests that sequencing success from serum and oral fluids is fairly similar if starting concentration is similar.

Though these particulars have shown a higher success rate in detecting PRRS, they also help in the detection of SIV.

Such developments are very important: healthy animals lower the cost and safety of meat proteins for the ever-growing, -demanding and health-conscious human consumer.

Conceived, Developed and Written by Dr. Subodh Das and Tara Mahadevan

February 11, 2013

Fluid Management Systems

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“Pig Farmers Face Pressure on the Size of the Sty” — New York Times, 5 October 2012

Across the US, hog farms have developed a practice of separating their sows into gestation crates. Before, sows were normally kept in pens; but due to their aggressiveness, hog farmers now separate sows. While gestation crates have kept the price of pork fairly low for consumers, the crates are barely bigger than the pigs themselves. Pork buyers and animal rights groups have deemed gestation crates cruel, and are pressuring hog farmers to move sows back into group housing.

Several large companies, including Dunkin’ Donuts, ConAgra Food, McDonalds and Brinker International (owner of Chili’s) have publicized that they will no longer purchase pork that is produced from farms that use gestation crates. The number of fast-food companies and food retailers that have also made this same pledge is currently at 32; and the Humane Society of the US is having a field day.

Hog farmers aren’t sharing in the Humane Society’s revelry: moving sows back into pens could prove to be expensive for the farmers, and could result in elevated pork prices for consumers.

The Humane Society’s stance that gestation creates are inhumane has swayed some pork processing companies to rectify their facilities. Cargill, the US’s third-largest pork processor, moved to group housing about 10 years ago; Smithfield Foods shifted to pens in 2011. However, Tyson Foods and JBS, two huge pork processors, refuse to make the move.

Gestations crates continually prove to be a positive for hog farmers. In crates, feed can be individually modified; and by limiting movement, defecation can be controlled, and can be kept out of the pig’s food and water. Crates also allow for easier and safer medical treatment; less aggressiveness; and increased work safety. Gestation crates are more cost-effective, and allow for pigs to birth more piglets.

Hog farmers, who have taken steps to improve conditions for pigs, have done so at great costs. Building rates of new barns with pens can be expensive – operational costs are also amplified because more labor is required to manage sow relations. Medical care is more costly, and no ideal feeding system has been identified.

Under these same circumstances, hog farmers in Britain didn’t fair very well. In 1991, the British government forced hog farmers to move their sows to group housing by 1999. Pork prices rose and consumers were reluctant to pay, instead buying low-cost Dutch and Danish pork, which ultimately ruined British farmers.

Now, countries in the European Union that produce pork, such as Denmark and the Netherlands, have been ordered to move their sows into pens by 2013. Latin American, Chinese and Russian hog farmers stand to gain – since they aren’t required to move their sows, they can sell their pork for cheaper rates on the European market.

The current state of the European pork industry could be a cautionary tale for American consumers and the American pork industry alike. Right now, many American hog farmers are making the move from gestation crates to pens. The question to answer: will the farmers see the economic rewards from this move?

Conceived, Developed and Written by Dr. Subodh Das and Tara Mahadevan

November 5, 2012

Fluid Management Systems

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“Drought’s Grip Is Wide, Deep”- Wall Street Journal, 4 Sept 2012

Though Hurricane Isaac brought relief to one of our driest summers, the drought still has the capability of slowing our economy.

Farms have faced the brunt of repercussions, severely effecting corn and soybean crops, and increasing prices of feed for chickens, hogs and cattle. Many cattle ranchers and dairy farmers have found it cheaper to slaughter their livestock, which, in turn, affects food companies’ profit margins. According to the Department of Agriculture, food prices could climb 3% to 4% from 2012-13. Food prices rose from 2.5% to 3.5% in 2011-12.

Among other price increases is the growing cost of gasoline. Ethanol, a corn-based fuel that is mixed with gasoline, is a likely source of mounting gas prices. Gasoline prices are now around $3.78, having risen over 40 cents since July.

Regardless of the drought, farm incomes will grow 3.7% this year, to $122.2 billion. This is partly due to elevated prices of corn, soybeans and land, which are compensating for any losses. This, however, hasn’t widely stirred economic growth.

Recent rains cannot undo damages incurred, but may be able to facilitate next year’s soybean crop. Our current economic situation could worsen if moisture isn’t restored for next year’s growing season.

The question to answer: Will inflated food prices cause consumers to spend less on big ticket items, such as flat screen TVs and computers?

Conceived, Developed and Written by Dr. Subodh Das and Tara Mahadevan

October 10th, 2012

Fluid Management Systems

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“How to Live High on the Hog During a Drought” – Wall Street Journal, 4 Sept 2012

Droughts can severely affect the lives of farm animals; livestock are often slaughtered if their living costs increase too rapidly. Farmers look at the situation economically, and sometimes selling an entire outfit makes more sense than continuing to run the show.

According to the National Climatic Data Center, 2012 has been the hottest year on record. Our summer was unfailingly warm; since June, corn prices have grown 41%, while soybean prices have grown 33%. On the same note, prices for hogs and cattle have dropped 19% and 8%.

There is a rise in the slaughter rate – the rate for hogs has shot up to 16%, when, at this time of year, the rate is usually 4-6%. The drought has raised livestock feed prices, persuading farmers to liquidate their assets.

In late 2007 and mid-2008, grain doubled in price, which pushed farmers into thinning their herds. The monthly average of slaughtered hogs increased to 10 million, from a steady rate of 8-9 million. However, the price of hogs recuperated in 2010-11.

The question to answer: how will our hand in climate change continue to affect the cost of food?

Conceived, Developed and Written by Dr. Subodh Das and Tara Mahadevan

October 10th, 2012

Fluid Management Systems

Copyright 2012   All rights Reserved by Fluid Management Systems, Inc.

www.fluidmanagementsystem.com     subodh@fluidmanagementsystem.com

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