Humane Being's S.C.R.A.P. Library
How Factory Farming Harms People, Planet and Animals

Avian flu epidemic from pigs and birds is the most likely origin of the next pandemic.

Which zoonotic diseases put us most at risk?

“More than 100 years after the 1918 Spanish influenza pandemic, type A influenza virus not only poses one of the largest threats to the modern world, but the risk of spill-over of avian influenza from poultry to humans is growing”
🔗 Source: The next pandemic: H5N1 and H7N9 influenza?
“ an avian influenza virus transmitted via pigs to humans poses a significant risk to cause a new influenza pandemic, possibly on the disturbing scale of the human influenza pandemic experienced during 1918-1920 (H1N1 “Spanish Flu”).”
🔗 Source:  The pig as a mixing vessel for influenza viruses: Human and veterinary implications

PMID: 19565018 Influenza A viruses are highly infectious respiratory pathogens that can infect many species. Birds are the reservoir for all known influenza A subtypes; and novel influenza viruses can emerge from birds and infect mammalian species including humans.

“Scientists and public health professionals have predicted “that influenza holds one of the highest risks of pandemics in the following decades, particularly with an increase in human proximity to poultry and the growth of international travel, with more than a billion people crossing international borders before the COVID-19. In particular, two subtypes give cause for concern, H5N1 and H7N9”
🔗 Source: The next pandemic: H5N1 and H7N9 influenza?
“Examples of zoonotic influenza viruses that have recently caused human infections include highly pathogenic avian influenza A(H7N9), A(H5N1), and A(H5N6); low pathogenic avian influenza A(H7N2), which was transmitted from a cat; and swine influenza A(H1N2)v and A(H3N2)v. The most recent [influenza] pandemic occurred in 2009 and was caused by an influenza A (H1N1) virus. It is estimated to have caused between 100,000 and 400,000 deaths globally in the first year alone”
🔗 Source: Influenza (avian and other zoonotic)

Avian influenza virus subtype distribution upon avian species

Notion image
“The growing speed and intensity of zoonotic spread is primarily driven by anthropogenic* environmental change and the intensification of animal agriculture”.
🔗 Source: A Public Health Ethics Case for Mitigating Zoonotic Disease Risk in Food Production
“The majority of pathogens of animals are generalists that infect multiple host species, referred to asmulti-host pathogens. Roughly 77% of pathogens of livestock are known to be multi-host pathogens (Cleavelandet al. 2001)”.
🔗 Source: Ecology of Multi-host Pathogens of Animals
“Blaming migratory waterfowl … is clearly no longer a tenable position,” says Rob Wallace, an American virologist who argues that the new strains of flu emerging are adapting to industrial poultry production. “Influenza’s infiltration into industrial livestock and poultry is so complete that these farms now act as their own reservoirs [of disease],” he says. “They are their own source.”
🔗 Source: Factory farms of disease: how industrial chicken production is breeding the next pandemic

Avian influenza virus subtypes upon country

Notion image

Alarming rate of increase of numerous zoonotic diseases in the UK

The GB pig disease surveillance dashboard


From the GB pig disease surveillance dashboard (Defra’s Animal and Plant Health Agency & SRUC in collaboration) Industry will argue that these diseases do not seem to be overly significant for humans, but as we know, this can change in an instant with the correct mutation or resistance development, and for the people that do contract these diseases the consequences can be deeply significant. Total diagnoses (presumably from single samples/individual pigs) made in 2020 was 922. This number as a proportion of pigs (taken from June 2018 – 5,012,000) is 0.018%, and as a proportion of pigs slaughtered over the year plus breeding herd is 0.008%. There is a possibility that this is even smaller as submitted pigs may have multiple diagnoses. The UK cannot claim to have a grip on the national animal health status.


May 2021 there were a total of 279 diagnoses and the top 3 were zoonotic.

Streptococcoccus suis – 22 cases • Salmonella typhimurium – 20 cases • Swine influenza – 16 cases (as we have seen this is not a notifiable disease)


July 2022 there are 9,163 diagnoses

Streptococcoccus suis - 653 cases

Salmonellosis -S Typhimurium - 476 cases

Swine influenza - 334 cases


Here is a complete list of diagnoses from July 2022


Click here to see the latest figures and drill into the figures by region or by disease

Did this answer your question?