Monday, 22 June 2020

Slaughterhouse 5 - maybe the vegetarians have a point

Is there a pattern emerging here..?

From the BBC: Many experts think Covid-19 likely originated in the Huanan Seafood Wholesale Market in Wuhan, which has been linked to early confirmed cases. While not a wet market in the strictest sense, reports suggest the market was selling wildlife, including snakes, porcupine and deer.

BBC 13 June: Chinese officials aren't sure how the huge Xinfandi wholesale market - which supplies 80% of Beijing's vegetables and meat - has become the source of a new coronavirus outbreak.

BBC 17 June: Thousands of people in Germany have been told to go into quarantine after a coronavirus outbreak at an abattoir. More than 650 people have tested positive for the virus at the meat processing plant in GĂĽtersloh, in the north-west of the country.

BBC 19 June: A coronavirus outbreak at a meat factory was shrouded in "secrecy", it has been claimed. Health Secretary Matt Hancock revealed at Thursday's daily briefing there had been cases in Kirklees, West Yorkshire.

BBC 19 June: Schools in Anglesey will not reopen as planned, after an outbreak of coronavirus at a meat processing factory. All staff at the 2 Sisters chicken factory, in Llangefni are self-isolating after 61 workers tested positive.

Sky News gives a possible explanation:

People working in refrigerated environments in food factories could be at a higher risk of contracting coronavirus, a microbiologist has told Sky News...Dr Simon Clarke, a microbiologist at the University of Reading, told Sky News: "There are two possible explanations. The first one is that people aren't observing proper distancing and working together. But then if that were the case, why would you see it only in food processing plants and not other factories?"

"I think a more likely explanation may well be the cold - these places tend to be refrigerated. If these places are refrigerated, do you get an increased susceptibility to infection like you get during the winter with the cold? The truth is, we don't really know. But my suspicion is it's got something to do with the cold, refrigerated environment in food factories."

Yeah but no but. I don't think that the Chinese wholesale/wet markets are refrigerated, and I'm not aware of any outbreaks in frozen vegetable or ice cream factories, so the common link is the animals, living and dead. There was also an outbreak in a factory in Wrexham that makes ready meals so I assume that meat involved.


Bayard said...

It wouldn't be the only disease transmitted via infected meat.

Mark Wadsworth said...

B, yup. Apart from the one we got from Spanish salad (or was it cucumbers?).

But do you assume this is direct animal to human infection, or human to human? I suspect the former.

Bayard said...

M, animals can't get the disease, but they can pass it on?

Mark Wadsworth said...

B, clearly they can.

Bayard said...

I somehow don't think that was taken into account when all the "social distancing" crap was dreamed up.

formertory said...

So it goes.........

Mark Wadsworth said...

B, you mean, don't bother with total lock down, we all just go vegetarian for a while? Hmm. Seems like a price worth paying.

FT, sorry, not clear.

George Carty said...

Have you read the Patrick Shaw Stewart's Old Wives and Virologists blog, which puts forward the hypothesis that respiratory viruses use temperature sensitivity as a means to optimize their spread, by ensuring that they multiply in the throat (where they cause coughs and sneezes which help them spread) rather than the lungs (where they incapacitate their host and thus curb the spread)?

Mark Wadsworth said...

GC, no I have not read that book, but it makes sense. A virus has to infect others (coughing, sneezing, sex etc), if it can't be spread, it fades away again.

formertory said...

FT, sorry, not clear

Sorry MW, feeble attempt at humour. The hero (?) of Slaughterhouse 5 is Billy Pilgrim, who's kidnapped by aliens and made an exhibit in one of their zoos; then he time travels to Dresden (amongst other places) during the carpet bombing of that city in WW2.

Whenever there's (what Terry Pratchett would have called) "an embuggerment" which leaves Billy powerless to act or change a situation, Vonnegut sums up that section of the story with the final sentence of the chapter or section: "So it goes".

A.K.A. "shit happens".

Mark Wadsworth said...

FT, thanks. I vaguely know what the book is about but have never read it :-)