But who cares?
There are times when everyone is talking about ‘pandemics’ and it is, of course, something to worry and to take action about. But there are not only pandemics that affect human health directly, but pandemics amongst animals that can not only be devastating for the animals themselves but indirectly for humans as well. For instance, the so-called African swine fever, a terrible and frighteningly contagious viral disease of pigs that is killing domestic and wild pigs around the world. Although it has not yet reached North America it is estimated that in 2019 alone 300 million pigs had to be killed or died in China and that by now the disease has spread to 50 countries. Affected pigs (and no age group is spared) develop a high fever, lose their appetite and can die within a week after being infected. Humans can’t catch the disease, but can transmit it to other still healthy pigs. The foot-and-mouth disease is another livestock disease caused by a virus and affects all species with cloven hoofs. The disease spreads very easily and although lethal in adult animals only to about 5%, it can have a severe effect on the health of calves, lambs, and piglets killing 20% of those that are still receiving milk containing the FMD-virus from their sick mothers. That birds, too, can be sick and their illness can reach the level of a pandemic, we know from the bird flu that started in Hong Kong in 1997 and then arrived in Europe in 2004 where it lead to the controlled killing of millions of domestic chickens, ducks, and geese. —>—>