More than 100 cases of monkeypox have now been detected in at least twelve non-endemic countries, including the US, the UK, Australia, Canada, Germany, Portugal, Spain, and Italy. Although the overall risk to humans is low, the number of cases is expected to rise, and this outbreak is just another example of how our relationship with animals will continue to wreak havoc.

Source: CBS Evening News/Youtube

Monkeypox is a zoonotic disease caused by an infection that jumps from other species to humans. Infections jumping to humans from other species is nothing new. ¾ of the infectious diseases that have recently emerged in humans have come from animals. The symptoms of monkeypox are similar to smallpox. It begins with fever, headache, muscle aches, and exhaustion, according to the CDC. The incubation period is usually 7−14 days but can range from 5−21 days.

Covid-19 is another example of a zoonotic disease that likely originated in factory farms and wet markets and caused the pandemic that turned the world upside down. The Independent Panel for Pandemic Preparedness and Response has already said that the world will not be prepared for future pandemics. According to the WHO, there are already several other known coronaviruses circulating in animals that have not yet infected humans.

In the current monkeypox outbreak, there has been human-to-human transmission across several continents. Although monkeypox is often disregarded as rare and not dangerous, it should not be underestimated, according to a peer-reviewed scientific report from earlier this year.

In a piece for the Independent, Dr. Julia Baines, the science policy adviser for PETA UK said, “It’s time we accepted that snatching animals from their natural homes, confining them to filthy cages in close proximity to each another (at markets or farms), and killing and eating them will lead to more zoonotic diseases like monkeypox.”

These factory farms, wet markets, animal mills, and other places like this are ‘breeding grounds for zoonotic diseases.’ These poor animals are kept in small, dirty, confined spaces and often packed so tightly together that they can’t move. We pump our animals with antibiotics which eventually leads to resistance among the animals and decreases the effectiveness of antibiotics. Transport trucks are packed full of animals on their way to the slaughterhouse, and we use and abuse animals as prisoners for profit, but it will catch up to us.

“These diseases will also have unpredictable mutations and potentially deadly outcomes. Scientists were able to develop a vaccine to help protect against Covid-19, but next time they may not be able to.”

“We need to stop thinking of animals as commodities, and instead as communities with whom we share the planet. Until then we will be subject to more deadly pandemics. And horrific cruelty to animals will continue,” Baines said.

We cannot continue to allow these industries to be managed like this. We need to choose consciously what we eat, wear, and what industries we support.

“As long as people continue to use and abuse animals, we will be running the risk of triggering outbreaks of disease and pandemics for which there are no effective vaccines,” Baines commented.

What You Can Do

Even though COVID-19 has devastated our world, there may be hope for the future. Public opinion is shifting on how we treat animals. Lawmakers are working on legislation to ban live animal markets. Senators Cory Booker, Bernie Sanders, and Elizabeth Warren are sponsoring a bill to ban factory farming by 2040. We must hold lawmakers accountable to help end these violent, grotesque industries. Human exploitation of animals has proven to be harmful to public health time and time again.

While waiting for legislators to make the right decision, you can personally help prevent such diseases by reducing or eliminating animal products from your diet. As more people take this step, animal agriculture industries take notice. Stand up against these harmful practices (and reduce your chances of getting salmonella)!

Check out these 10 Zoonotic Diseases that Emerged from Humans Consuming Animals. In addition to lessening your consumption of animal products, you can encourage your elected officials to take action.

Sign this petition to support legislation to ban factory farms!

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