The coronavirus variant, COVID-19, responsible for the outbreak of a virulent form of respiratory illness in China belongs to the same general virus class as the common cold and SARS. The source is bats that infected wild animals marketed in the Wuhon wet market. Both wild and domestic animals are kept live and slaughtered in front of customers, leaving no doubt what one is buying. The conditions are unsanitary. The wild animals were infected by virus containing bat feces. COVID-19 uses the ACE2 receptor, critical in controlling blood pressure in humans, bats and pigs. Coronavirus genes use RNA and mutate frequently, creating new viral strains having varying levels of virulence.

Wet market conditions mirror those existing in U.S. swine CAFOs. Crowding of animals and humans in markets or CAFOs creates conditions for rapid amplification and spread of virus once infected animals or humans enter the facility. Similarities between amplification of influenza virus in U.S. swine CAFOs and the coronavirus epidemic in China are striking. Both juxtapose animals and humans in crowded unsanitary facilities open to wild animals, the source of viruses that infect both consumed animals and humans through common receptors shared by both humans and the animals they consume. These conditions exist in the poorly regulated environment of the swine industry today.

Our governor supports removal of local control of CAFOs with no effective DENR oversight, clearly not in the best interest of the constituents that elected her.

(1) comment


1. Yes COVID-19 is a novel (new) virus with the ground zero of infection source being China. This new virus appears to have developed as a chance encounter and combination of virus genetic pieces from a human, a bat and from a yet unknown wild animal. Once created this new virus spreads PERSON to PERSON. There are No additional animals involved in this spread. Only humans. Pigs have not been identified or implicated as the source with this illness or for SARS either. It is devastating to China and extremely scary to the world. Using it to spread misinformation about hog barns is almost unbelievable.

2. Infections that are spread from animal to person are called Zoonotic diseases and they are common, both in the United States and around the world. The CDC reports that scientists estimate that more than 6 out of every 10 known infectious diseases in people are spread from animals. ALL animals can be a source of zoonotic illness to include your pets. Coronaviruses are a large “family” of viruses. These viruses occur in many different animals. It is extremely rare for coronavirus to infect people and then spread to other people. When it happens it can spread fast because people have not built up a defense yet.

3. Your comparison of a modern hog facility to the wet market in Wuhan China is ridiculous. First your cultural characterization is in my opinion degrading and uninformed. Second a modern hog facility is far from your description. I would be happy to bring you on a tour. In order to be successful at producing wholesome pork for food a producer strives for healthy, happy animals. It does a producer no good to mistreat, crowd, or stress the animals. The animals are spread out in pens with appropriate amounts of space for the growing pigs. Food and water is available on demand with limited waste. Biosecurity is in place to limit transfer of human or other pig illnesses to the pig residents by their caretakers. The climate is controlled year round. It is not open to wild animals as you insinuate. The facilities are sanitary and regulated by the producers and by governmental regulations. Hog facilities have nothing to do with COVID-19.

4. I would recommend you take the time to actually read the Governor’s bill. It has nothing to do with local control of CAFOs or DENR oversight.

5. Now let’s talk about the influenza virus since I believe you misrepresented it in your letter. It can be confusing. Influenza can be a swine influenza spread pig to pig.... or a human influenza spread person to person. The nomenclature for both appear similar with the host identified for animals but not humans. An example would be “swine influenza A(H1N1)” only infects pigs while the human version “A(H1N1)” only infects humans. On rare occasion a person can get an influenza virus from direct contact with a pig with swine influenza. It's called variant influenza. It is a mild form of the influenza virus that is treatable with current medications. It is marked with the letter v. “A(H1N1)v” It is often confused, as you did in your letter, with a more serious influenza that “shifts” genetic material from viruses to form new never seen before viruses. In these rare cases, the genetic material of a single human’s influenza virus mixes with the genetic material of a single animal or two’s influenza viruses , to form a new human influenza virus that infects and spreads among humans. This is extremely rare and can cause pandemics. It has happened 9 times in 300 years. Although the new virus may carry genetic material from swine influenza from a single pig, it is a HUMAN virus that is spread person to person. It is not spread from or among pigs. It is not found in hog barns. It is not developed in hog barns. Hog barns do not carry a higher risk of being the epicenter for these new viruses.

6. To be clear: Pigs get influenza from pigs. Humans get influenza from humans. Humans can rarely can get a mild and treatable influenza called variant Influenza from pigs. And on extremely rare occasions a genetic shift can occur causing a new human virus to form. In 2009 it happened in a field of 300 pigs in Mexico and involved one human, one pig, and one bird. It allowed the formation of a new virus that is only spread to and from people. The chance that a similar Perfect Storm with antigenic shift allowing avian, swine, and human influenza to form a new novel influenza virus in Yankton County is virtually impossible.

7. If you don’t believe me.... please talk to an Infectious Disease physician or a Veterinarian about it. Inaccurate information only harms our Community more.

Nancy Schenk, physician and family farmer

Welcome to the discussion.

Keep it Clean. Please avoid obscene, vulgar, lewd, racist or sexually-oriented language.
Don't Threaten. Threats of harming another person will not be tolerated.
Be Truthful. Don't knowingly lie about anyone or anything.
Be Nice. No racism, sexism or any sort of -ism that is degrading to another person.
Be Proactive. Use the 'Report' link on each comment to let us know of abusive posts.
Share with Us. We'd love to hear eyewitness accounts, the history behind an article.