Flu strain with pandemic potential found in pigs.

CastletonSnob

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Because 2020 doesn't think we've suffered enough.

https://www.sciencemag.org/news/202...mic-potential-increasingly-found-chinese-pigs

What the world doesn’t need now is a pandemic on top of a pandemic. So a new finding that Chinese pigs are more and more frequently becoming infected with a strain of influenza that has the potential to jump to humans has infectious disease researchers worldwide taking serious notice. Robert Webster, an influenza investigator who recently retired from St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, says it’s a “guessing game” as to whether this strain will mutate to readily transmit between humans, which it has not done yet. “We just do not know a pandemic is going to occur until the damn thing occurs,” Webster says, noting that China has the largest pig population in the world. “Will this one do it? God knows.”

When multiple strains of influenza viruses infect the same pig, they can easily swap genes, a process known as “reassortment.” The new study, published today in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, focuses on an influenza virus dubbed G4. The virus is a unique blend of three lineages: one similar to strains found in European and Asian birds, the H1N1 strain that caused the 2009 pandemic, and a North American H1N1 that has genes from avian, human, and pig influenza viruses.
 

Palindromemordnilap

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Anyone want to place bets on Giant Meteor in December? How about the Yellowstone Supervolcano erupting in October?
I mean coronavirus is Pestilence, you could maybe say the protests and outbreaks of violence in the US are War, I think to carry on the Four Horsemen theme we need some Famine. Wait, hang on, if pig meat is going to be contaminated and inedible maybe thats the Famine starting up, shit...
 

Hawki

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Why is it always China.
I'm kind of wondering the same thing myself.

Like, China isn't some undeveloped country. Factory farming isn't confined to it either. You could argue that it has a larger population, and as such these things are more likely to occur statistically, but that really doesn't work as an argument - see India, Europe, etc. (you could argue Africa as well, but that has a lower population density).

The thing is, I saw warnings this year that this kind of farming was a ticking time bomb, but I didn't expect it to happen so soon.
 
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Agema

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Like, China isn't some undeveloped country.
Actually, yes it is.

It has a GDP/capita (nominal) less than a quarter of the likes of Japan, USA and most Western European nations - and that's assuming its economic figures are accurate, as numerous economic analysts suspect its official figures are inflated by a substantial margin (~20%). Despite having some very high development in a few areas, vast swathes of the country remain not that much better than they were 20 or 30 years ago, largely untouched by the economic explosion around the eastern coast. Together with this, they will be carrying around all manner of archaic practices from decades earlier, because that stuff doesn't magically change just because you can buy a smartphone.

The thing is, I saw warnings this year that this kind of farming was a ticking time bomb, but I didn't expect it to happen so soon.
It most certainly is. Modern intensive farming is deeply problematic on many levels. It causes a lot of suffering to the animals. Terrible hygiene and cramped conditions make disease spread rampant; this leads many farmers to pour antibiotics into their stock, thereby encouraging antibiotic resistance as well. Incredibly, it's known for some farms to feed things like pigs rendered down bits of other animals, also enhancing the risk spread of disease across species. Particularly in terms of pig farms, pollution is also a significant issue because pig faeces is particularly nasty stuff.

There isn't so much of this really intensive farming outside relatively developed countries.

Ideally, we should probably cut meat consumption somewhat and return to more "free range" principles - which will involve a price rise. That or get lab-grown meat going, although I imagine that might have a fair bit of an associated ick factor for many.
 

Kwak

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Because 2020 doesn't think we've suffered enough.
It's not the year 2020, it's just the anthropocene era coming into maturity. We still have a few hundred years of the consequences of our actions to come.
 

Kwak

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To be clear, this actually already infects humans.
According to blood tests which showed up antibodies created by exposure to the virus, 10.4 per cent of swine workers had already been infected.
The tests showed that as many as 4.4 per cent of the general population also appeared to have been exposed.
But...
The virus has therefore already passed from animals to humans but there is no evidence yet that it can be passed from human to human — the scientists’ main worry.
 

CaitSeith

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Anyone want to place bets on Giant Meteor in December? How about the Yellowstone Supervolcano erupting in October?
Well, we either will be prepared for the Giant Meteor, or we will cause it ourselves by accident...


EDIT: Something to look forward in 2021
 

Baffle

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You've seen the reports about the elephants dying of some sort of neurological problem, and they don't know if it's transmissible to humans? Mad shit.

Also, not eating meat would probably help (not individually I don't mean, consumption would need to be massively lower worldwide). But every storm starts with a rain drop, or a thunder bolt or some fucking thing.

I banged my head really badly earlier, so this could all be moot to be. The chance of me dying is pretty low, but that's what most of us thought at the beginning of the year, eh?
 

Agema

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You've seen the reports about the elephants dying of some sort of neurological problem, and they don't know if it's transmissible to humans? Mad shit.
Transmission to humans is extraordinarily unlikely as these are wild African elephants that don't really mix with humans. Also, they may have been poisoned by poachers.

Botswana tries to protect elephants from poachers, but seeing as poachers from neighbouring countries don't have that many elephants to kill, they cross the border to hunt in Botswana. In fact, the main role of the Botswanan military is shooting wildlife poachers, and I heartily wish them every success in doing so.

Unfortunately, Botswana does now have a bit of an elephant overpopulation problem, because it seems the elephants haved noticed Botswana is safer and they're migrating in from neighbouring countries. The elephants can be dangerous to people in towns and villages, because if hungry they start investigating, so last I heard the government was going to allow some hunting licences.
 

Baffle

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From what I read (though that was yesterday, so probably out of date), they'd mostly ruled out poision as only elephants were dying, and that would be unusual, but it will take a few weeks to get blood results back.

Agree on shooting poachers. Was very sad to see that something like 350 elephants have just died. Seems like a colossal loss.
 

Agema

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Agree on shooting poachers. Was very sad to see that something like 350 elephants have just died. Seems like a colossal loss.
Poaching for vulnerable or endangered species really annoys me. Elephants are particularly aggravating because, I think, they're relatively intelligent and benevolent.
 

Palindromemordnilap

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Poaching for vulnerable or endangered species really annoys me. Elephants are particularly aggravating because, I think, they're relatively intelligent and benevolent.
When an elephant sees a human, the same parts of their brain flare up that react in human brains when we see, say, puppies. The fact they can look at humans and see us as adorable little fuzzies strongly suggests that they are indeed both intelligent and benevolent
 
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MrCalavera

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When an elephant sees a human, the same parts of their brain flare up that react in human brains when we see, say, puppies. The fact they can look at humans and see us as adorable little fuzzies strongly suggests that they are indeed both intelligent and benevolent
Which OTOH sucks, because a puppy won't kill you for your teeth.
 

Agema

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When an elephant sees a human, the same parts of their brain flare up that react in human brains when we see, say, puppies. The fact they can look at humans and see us as adorable little fuzzies strongly suggests that they are indeed both intelligent and benevolent
Maybe. The other side of the equation is we've identified elephant call sounds that they emit specifically upon sight of humans, and these equate to "Danger!"

So it's perhaps a little more like seeing a dog with a reputation for aggression, which both manages to look quite cute and which might sink its teeth into our hands if we get too close.
 
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Worgen

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This kinda thing is much more common then people realize. Usually though it tends to infect a handful of people then go away, what really gave Covid19 legs is that you were infectious before really showing symptoms, which is unusual.
 

Aegix Drakan

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One would HOPE that if this ends up being another "can spread for 2 weeks while being asymptomatic" super-infectious disease, we'll all be much more prepared and reasonable abo- *pfffffftttt* Yeah, right. We'll fuck this one up too if it goes badly.

Anyone want to place bets on Giant Meteor in December? How about the Yellowstone Supervolcano erupting in October?
I've got "Cthulhu rises from the depths" in October, makes sense given Halloween. Supervolcano and meteor (Human Cause) are slated for November and December respectively, both as countermeasure for the eldritch monster.

(Honestly, I don't even like mentioning yellowstone, it feels like jinxing it, and uuuughhh we REALLY don't need that shit, especially not now)

That or get lab-grown meat going, although I imagine that might have a fair bit of an associated ick factor for many.
I'm really eager for the tech and distribution to be there. Assuming it's any good, I'll happily migrate over for most of my meat needs.

As it is, I'm eating a lot less meat than I used to while I lived with my family. I have a lot more eggs (often fried with rice), veggie soup, and pasta sauce with cheese than I do actual meat these days. And when I DO have meat, It's usually a few strips of it, mixed in with rice or noodles or something else as the main course, instead of being the great big slice of meat I used to have.

Being able to replace the rest of my meat consumption with guilt-free lab grown meat would be nice.

Maybe. The other side of the equation is we've identified elephant call sounds that they emit specifically upon sight of humans, and these equate to "Danger!"

So it's perhaps a little more like seeing a dog with a reputation for aggression, which both manages to look quite cute and which might sink its teeth into our hands if we get too close.
Soo...Like a chihuahua with a knife? Maybe a skunk?
 

Palindromemordnilap

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Which OTOH sucks, because a puppy won't kill you for your teeth.
Not yet anyway

Maybe. The other side of the equation is we've identified elephant call sounds that they emit specifically upon sight of humans, and these equate to "Danger!"

So it's perhaps a little more like seeing a dog with a reputation for aggression, which both manages to look quite cute and which might sink its teeth into our hands if we get too close.
Yeah I honestly think that says more about humans than it does elephants. We've taken these otherwise fairly benevolent creatures and made them learn the elephant equivalent of an emergency services number...