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Friday 14 August 2020

Veterinary Medicine. A monopoly occupation that kills its patients

I can think of only one profession, the veterinary profession, that routinely kills its customers (or patients). Even so, when animals are sick, the veterinary industry has been given a monopoly in the treatment of animals, and here, in the UK, this monopoly is supported by the law.

Coronavirus COVID-19 has demonstrated that when humanity faces an infection, the conventional medical establishment is prepared to wreck people's social and emotional lives, impose non-sensical restrictions, undermine human rights and freedoms, and destroy national economies. 

Yet animals get a much worse deal! When they get an infection, conventional veterinary medicine  will routinely destroy them, often alongside their colleagues, in healthy herds or flocks. And they do so, most often, because they have no effective treatment available.

Mad Cow Disease. Bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) is a progressive neurological disorder that affects the brains of cows. It is caused by an infection. It was was first identified in the 1970s and is related to Scrapie, a similar disease that affects sheep. There is no known treatment for either BSE or Scrapie; so all infected animals are routinely killed, along with their colleagues. 

The first major outbreak of BSE came in the United Kingdom in 1993, although it probably began some 20 years earlier. It caused havoc in farming, raised serious questions about how government (advised of course by medical science) handled the situation, and because it could be transmitted to humans as Variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease. Apparently 176 Britons and nearly 50 others around the world, contracted it, and it has been estimated that the whole episode has cost the British taxpayers many £billions.

In 2000, 14 years after the outbreak, the UK government admitted as the result of a costly independent inquiry that the failures of successive administrations had contributed to the BSE catastrophe. It did not criticise a medical system that advised these successive administrations!

Foot and Mouth Disease. In 2001, there was a Foot and Mouth epidemic in Britain. The response was one of utter fear and panic. 11 million cows and sheep were slaughtered. 2030 farms that were infected had all their animals culled. 7485 farms, whose animals were not infected, were also killed - because they were within a 5 mile radius of an infected farm. 

In other words, 79% of farms that suffered this fate were uninfected. 

The epidemic is reputed to have cost the UK government £8 billion. The government's slaughter policy was sanctioned and approved by conventional medical science. They were based on fears generated by computer predictions emanating from Neil Ferguson, of Imperial College, London. This man has subsequently made similar hopelessly outlandish computer 'predictions', most recently concerning the Covid-19 pandemic.

There had been another Foot and Mouth outbreak in Britain in 1967. There was no culling. The same was true in outbreaks in 1922, 1923-4, and 1953. The ability of veterinary medicine to cope with the disease has clearly declined over the last century.

Again, veterinary medicine admitted that it had no treatment for the disease. So what is this disease, and how serious is it? This is what Britannica says: 

               "Foot-and-mouth disease (FMD) (is) a highly contagious viral disease affecting practically all cloven-footed domesticated mammals, including cattle, sheep, goats, and pigs.... FMD is characterized by the formation of painful fluid-filled vesicles (blisters) on the tongue, lips, and other tissues of the mouth and on parts of the body where the skin is thin, as on the udder and teats, between the two toes of the feet, and around the coronary band above the hoof..... Because of its rapid spread and impact on animal productivity, FMD is considered to be the most economically devastating livestock disease in the world. The disease is not a human health hazard." 

Avian Flu. Avian influenza is a strain of flu virus that mainly affects birds. It can cause serious illness and death in domesticated birds such as ducks, chickens, or turkeys. In the late 1990s, a new strain of bird flu was identified which was described as 'highly pathogenic', and led to the culling of hundreds of millions of birds, including poultry. 

Yet again veterinary medicine had no treatment, and as there was an identified risk of bird-to-human, and human-to-human transmission, there was another panic. The only means of control available to veterinary medicine was to kill entire flocks of birds where there was the merest sign of infection.

Regular epidemics of avian flu have happened since then. In 2011, a mutated strain, H5N1, appeared. Vaccines that had been developed proved to be ineffective, so there was more slaughter. In 2013, the H7N9 strain appeared in China, with similar outcomes. In 2015 the USA Department of Agriculture detected bird flu (H5N2) in several flocks of turkeys in Arkansas and Missouri leading to several countries banning US poultry products. Then in 2016 there was an outbreak in turkeys in Indiana involving 9 to 10 farms, with thousands of turkeys culled.

And so it goes on. Veterinary medicine has no treatment, so animals are killed. For contracting the flu!

Swine Flu. Swine influenza starts in pigs, and is transmitted to humans. Again, there is a lack of effective veterinary treatment for animals, or safe and effective treatment for humans. Panic is, as usual, the normal response, with pigs being routinely culled in large numbers.

In response to the 2009 swine flu pandemic, which affected the human population, many governments around the world responded by the official culling of vast numbers of domesticated pigs, even though there was little evidence that pigs were responsible for transmitting the infection. 

In 2019 millions of pigs were slaughtered across most of Asia. 

In 2020 there was a mass culling of pigs in the Indian province of Assam.

Domestic Pets. Yet most people have a more direct experience of veterinary medicine's tendency to kill its patients. We take our cats and dogs to the vet, we are told they are ill, that there is no treatment, and that to prevent the animal from suffering, it is best to 'put them down'.

Most people accept this explanation, without too much thought or consideration. Indeed, I accept it; as long as the routine statement, "there is no treatment", is seriously questioned. All vets can legitimately  say is that "there is no conventional treatment". Many pets are euthanised when other medical therapies might be able to treat the disease.

So why does veterinary medicine resort to killing animals? Of course, veterinary medicine seeks to justify its policy of culling animals as an appropriate response to disease. This defence focuses mainly on stopping the transmission of the disease - not least because of the supposed benefits to us humans. This is what one BMJ paper states.

                "Euthanasia, for example, tends not to be looked on favourably in humans, whereas in veterinary medicine it might be the best approach. Similarly, culling infected individuals ... is not an option for controlling an outbreak of infectious disease in human but may well be so in animals. Doctors usually have the advantage over vets in that they can talk to their patients; for vets, life would be so much easier if their patients could talk." My emphasis.

However, the main reason for veterinary culling is that they have little or no effective treatment for infections diseases. Euthanasia does not usually concern the seriousness of the condition of animals themselves, or even a threat of transmission to humans. 

In other words, the killing of pets and domesticated animals is largely the result of medical incompetence. And in Britain we have given veterinary medicine a monopoly in the treatment of animals.

What sort of medicine is this?

A medicine that kills its patients - and calls it 'treatment'?