Bacon Flu Hops to Turkeys

August 21, 2009

Chile says bacon flu has shown up in turkeys. Here’s a totally shitty AP article about it, that right in paragraph two declares:

Chile’s turkey meat remains safe to eat, the [unnamed United Nations] expert said.

The article then quotes the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization’s infectious diseases chief Dr. Juan Lubroth:

My understanding is that with the ones that were sick, it was a very mild disease. It’s significant in that we don’t need to recommend any drastic measures, as far as culling the population of turkeys. Let them go through their illness and recover — 7 to 10 days — and if they are sound and healthy, they could enter the food chain.

I’m not a virologist, but this situation is terrifying — and I don’t think I’ve used that word in all the coverage of bacon flu I’ve so far published.

It’s well established that the current bacon flu virus isn’t terribly deadly. But now that it’s infecting turkeys, the bacon flu virus could potentially pick up genetic code from a far more deadly avian flu virus. From a public health perspective, it seems clear that Chile ought to slaughter every infected turkey flock immediately. The fact that they’re not doing this is probably traceable to agribusiness’ political pull.

Separately, the CDC is now reporting 522 American deaths from bacon flu. (Thanks, Larry.)

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