PETA India erects a warning billboard following the death of a child because of bird flu in Gurgaon.
H5N1 bird flu is fatal to 60% of humans who contract it. The World Health Organization (WHO) warns that handling diseased or dead birds and improper cooking can risk infections and that “[e]ggs can contain H5N1 virus both on the outside (shell) and the inside (whites and yolk)”. Live-poultry markets, such as those all over India, are major source of H5N1 infections in humans according to , and it is common to see sick chickens in them.
More than 700 human infections with Asian H5N1 viruses have been reported to WHO since November 2003. In most cases, infected persons have had contact with sick or dead chickens. The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says if Asian H5N1 viruses mutate so as to “gain the ability for efficient and sustained transmission among humans, an influenza pandemic could result, with potentially high rates of illness and death worldwide”.
In addition to helping to prevent the spread of diseases, meat-free meals spare animals immense suffering. In today’s meat industry, huge numbers of animals are raised in vast warehouses in severe confinement and their throats are often cut while they’re still conscious.