25 August 2007

A dose of the 'Flu

I have not written for quite a while because I like to have some serious thoughts on a matter before writing it here. I need to have some time to do that, and time is at a premium for me at the moment.

But the issue of influenza has raised its head, and some of the devastating effects that it is having. There is a human version that has killed eight people that I am aware of, and there is the horse kind that is impacting Thoroughbred breeding and now maybe even the races.

My first thought when I heard of children in Australia dying of influenza is that there was something a little wrong. This strain of the 'flu must be of a much different type to usual. But no, it is a variation on the influenza virus.

Now to my knowledge, influenza is curable. There is a product out that you take for about three days and it is gone. It is an Australian invention and is available here through doctors and pharmacies. So I really would like to know why people in Australia are dying of influenza? It really does not make any sense whatsoever.

Then there are the horses in Quarantine. They are shuttle stallions. They have come from overseas. Equine influenza was not known in Australia. Our horses have been spared this horrible disease. I don't think the cure available for humans is adapted to horses, although if my mare caught it, I would certainly try to use it on her. She does not need to be sick.

I know it only lasts for about 10 day, but it considerably weakens the animal for quite a while afterwards. The shuttle stallions who have it will still be required to meet their breeding commitments once they leave quarantine. Being Thoroughbreds, they are required to breed naturally. Therefore I have to wonder if this is going to shorten their lives in any way. I know all care is given to these magnificent animals but as so often happens to them, the financial value of their breeding capabilities far outweighs their actual physical and psychological value.

It also seems to me rather nasty that the people who benefit from these stallions and their breeding are not putting some of the money those horses are bringing in to them into more veterinary research into diseases like this. It is their own industry they are allowing to be devastated. An industry which brings in billions of dollars and employs thousands of people. The people can at least do something about poor working conditions, the horses cannot.

It seems to me also, that there is much stupidity in the husbandry of animals these day. Birds are killed if they have bird 'flu, even though it doesn't kill the birds and is not interspecies transferrable. Sheep and cows are killed if they have foot and mouth disease, even though there is a vaccine against it. The disease, likewise, does not kill the animal nor is it interspecies transferrable. So what is the mad need to slaughter all these creatures so needlessly? Is it just the inconvenience? Greed and stupidity is what it is. What is the difficulty in vaccinating sheep and cows against foot and mouth disease?

Certainly mad cow disease (BSE) should be eliminated in this way, but surely a humane method could be found to put the animals down. What is the difficulty there? Just poor and stupid husbandry methods. It is about time Departments of Agriculture, particularly in Western countries, realised that death and destruction in these manners is not going to solve the problem, but more humane and caring methods of husbandry are. I am not advocating against quarantines, or any such thing, but I am advocating to someone using their brains.

Alien thoughts, I know ...