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Deadly viruses and animal cruelty

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Flu season is here and writer Nancy McVicar's report regarding the potential bird flu pandemic fails to point out the real reasons for this possible disaster and what could be done to prevent it from developing in the first place.

Has anyone ever noticed that many of the most deadly viruses originate from live animal markets in eastern Asia, the Hong Kong flu and SARS, just to name a few? Well, that is because millions of non-human animals of every species imaginable, in many of these countries, particularly China, are captured, tortured and brutally killed for food, clothing and for use as aphrodisiacs.

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There is no animal welfare law in China, so anything goes. Turtles, civets, snakes, chickens, squirrels and yes, live dogs and cats are all crammed together into cages in deplorable, unhygienic open markets. They are often slaughtered on the spot, with blood and guts spilling out everywhere -- mixing with other animals and humans who are in close proximity. The result, not surprisingly, is that many animals develop deadly diseases that are easily transmitted to other animals and humans.

Instead of President Bush asking Congress to appropriate $3 billion to perfect a new technology to produce a vaccine for the avian flu, how about demanding that China enact an animal welfare law that would require more humane and ethical treatment of all non-human animals. This would translate into a cleaner, safer environment for the animals, which would ultimately prove to be healthier for humans.

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