This is in response to the letters from Nancy Schenk (Press & Dakotan, Feb. 28 and March 6):

As a primary care physician, Dr Nancy Schenk should clearly remember the 2017-2018 flu season, one of the worst on record in the U.S. with an estimated 61,099 deaths. I direct her to The CDC bulletin “H3N2v and You” available on a Google search. The predominant circulating virus during that season was the H3N2v virus. A direct quote from this bulletin reads, “H3N2v is a non-human influenza virus that normally circulates in pigs and that has infected humans. Viruses that normally circulate in pigs are “swine influenza viruses.” When these viruses infect humans, they are termed “variant” viruses.”

In that bulletin the CDC specifically recommends that, “People with health or age factors that put them at high risk for serious flu complications should avoid pigs and swine barns.” According to the CDC, pigs can infect humans and humans can infect pigs.” Dr Schenk wishes to downplay the seriousness of these variant viruses, but clearly any virus that recently killed 61,099 people in the U.S. is a serious matter.

We have many nursing homes where many of our elderly relatives live. This population is at the highest risk. Her barn is the size it is to specifically avoid regulations that are supposed to govern larger barns, and sits some 50 feet above the aquifer that supplies water to Yankton.

(12) comments

Nschenk

Yes, as a Primary Care Physician I care for many Influenza patients and I am frontline as we begin to combat Covid-19. I feel obligated to correct your misinformation.

In 2017 there were exactly 62 cases of Influenza A H3N2v as listed from your very own source ^H3N2v and You” under case count and then FluView. The number you used, 61,099, is Influenza A H3N2, a human to human spread Influenza. (note no v.). Again you are confusing and therefore misrepresenting to the public human spread cases of flu (H3N2) with the variant infection (H3N2v). The very last paragraph in your source reads. “Is H3N2v the same as the H3N2 flu virus that makes people sick each flu season? No, H3N2v is different. H3N2v is a variant virus that is in pigs and has infected some humans. “

Also outlined in your source, is that H3N2v has symptoms similar to the seasonal flu and that it’s treated with the same antiviral drugs we use for influenza. Variant influenza comes from direct contact with a pig the majority of the time and the general public is not at risk. All influenza can cause complications with health conditions, so yes, if you have a concern of getting ill, please avoid pigs and swine barns. The pigs prefer to avoid infection from you too.

Our barns had testing to make sure there were no shallow aquifers beneath them before we built. The manure is held in a concrete, zero discharge vault. If you are worried about Yankton’s water source perhaps you should turn your attention to housing developments upstream of the City of Yankton Municipal Water Intake.

Larry Skow

Dr. Schenk. While I respect your right to make a living raising hogs. An highly likely farming is a tax write down from being a high income earing Dr. I still respect your right. However being a Dr. I am sure you are are area of nitrates leaching into ground water an then that contaminates drinking wter causing many many health issues including BLUE BABY SNYDROME. So in essence your high intensity manure practices will in all likely hood cause issues down the road. So this I say shame on you. Please read Bailey's letter here in paper about her wish for clean water. Also in all likely hood all these hog barns are contracted to Smithfeild meat a huge Chinese company who really cares nothing about American drinking water. Now that said the huge cattle feeding lots are simply no better an actually may be worse at nitrate contamination. Dr. Schenk you do have a right to make a living. But don't do it at the expense of contaminating ground water---which you are contributing to. Kind of a double dipper---who knows. What with treating patients with water borne illnesses. You being a Dr. an all. No one has the right to pollute. Farming is not what it was 50 years ago. These places are really a farm factory or animal factory. High intensity practices such as this bring issues. no matter how FAMILY FARM it is claimed to be. That is just well known loop hole to skirt legalitys. If you pollute shame on you no matter what your profession is.

JH Gunderson

From Webster: Definition of hysteria

1: a psychoneurosis marked by emotional excitability and disturbances of the psychogenic, sensory, vasomotor, and visceral (see VISCERAL sense 4) functions

2: behavior exhibiting overwhelming or unmanageable fear or emotional excess.

A: We agree that keeping the pigs away from the humans keeps everybody healthy. That is why the pigs are raised in closed buildings. That is why the pigs are raised in isolation. We don't keep them in the house, as it seems the good Doctor Fournier seems to want to do.

B: The Schenk Barns, are two rivers and 5 to 7 miles from the City of Yankton water supply. The barns have a state inspected concrete vault to store manure.

C: The City of Yankton uses clay lined pits, next to the river and spreads the solid portion of the 'waste' on farmland near the city without state supervision.

D: West of town, 5,000 people have septic systems that drain into the lake and river above where the City of Yankton draws it's municipal system.

E: and finally, Guy Larson, representing the Sierra Club, announced at a recent meeting that the highest concentrations of E.Coli bacteria they had found in testing last fall were found near the City of Yankton water treatment plant. Oddly enough, the clean water was at the north end of town, probably from tile outlets after, mostly cow, manure had been spread.

Perhaps, more facts and less hysteria and misinformation would help this discourse.

John H Gunderson

PTau

A convenient set of facts you have chosen JHG. And a bit of loose interpretation of what Dr Fournier was trying to get across in just few words. No hysteria, just some of the possibilities and some of the history of past viruses. H1N1 or H3N2 and it variants. We all need to do our best these days and the science of industrial farming is not always on your side just because you choose to ignore it. I will respond to each of your paragraphs with a different set of inconvenient truths.

Para A: Yes you are keeping the pigs away from people. Not the smell, or what's in the smell either - toxins. Only one of the new barns built in the last two years is a "closed" barn. That one is owned by the Schenk's and as of two days ago, it still smelled horrible for the neighbors. Your barns, and all the others, are curtain barns. Closed sometimes and open at other times. No filters, just fans.

Para B: The Schenks have 5 operational barns in MH and Gayville Area. Despite what Dr Schenk stated above, the Gayville site on Hwy 50 is mapped above the shallow aquifer, about 50' and sometimes a little more or less. The Artesian Well in the front driveway of the barn is a nice touch too. We can nitpick all you want on the numbers, but it's more than that. Concrete walls and floors will fail someday. The concrete inspection you mentioned only happens once when the pit is new and not full of effluent. And I do believe that inspection is only for State permitted barns, but I could be wrong about that. But a one time visit and no monitoring wells... we can do better than that. Also, due in part to the unregulated plans for these below the DENR sized facilities, the accumulation of field runoff over time will cause some damage. It has everywhere it’s been tried. Yours' has a State permit for sure. I just hope you are able to put in those buffer strips to keep the manure on your sloping fields before getting to the not too distant James River.

Para C, D, E, and F: It's always nice to change the subject to something that you and I can agree on. The West side lake district does have a problem with septic systems. A few discussions have taken place by this commission, but my hopes for a solution are dim. The past commission just approved more septic facilities out there along with every hog barn. Dr Fournier was not implying the aquifer supplies the city of Yankton, but rather it does supply many homes from wells throughout the county.

Someday we may be able to find some balance in this community. But my hopes for that, well, are dim as well. Let's come to the table JHG and talk. You have my number.

PTau

No hysteria JHG, just possibilities and some history of past viruses. We all must do our best these days. The science of industrial farming is not always on your side. My response by paragraph follows:

Para A: Yes, the pigs are away from people. Not the smell, or what's in the smell - toxins. Only one of the new barns is a "closed" barn. Yours and the others, are curtain barns. Closed sometimes and open other times. No filters, just fans.

Para B: Despite what Dr Schenk stated, the Gayville Hwy 50 site is mapped above the shallow aquifer, about 50' give or take. Nitpick all you want on the numbers, it's more than that. Concrete walls and floors will fail someday. The concrete inspection only happens once for a new pit, while empty. I believe this inspection is only for State permitted barns, but I could be wrong. A one time look and no monitoring wells? ...we can do better. Due in part to the unregulated plans for these smaller facilities, the accumulation of field runoff over time will cause damage. It has everywhere it’s been tried. Yours' has a State permit, I hope your buffer strips keep the manure on your sloping fields before getting to the James.

Para C to F: Nice change of subject. I agree, the West side does have a problem with septic systems. Discussions have taken place by this commission, but my hopes for a solution are dim. The past commission approved more septic facilities, along with every hog barn. He was not implying the aquifer supplies the City, but rather the many homes from wells throughout the county.

Someday we may be able to find some balance in this community. But my hopes for that, well, are dim as well. Let's come to the table JHG and talk. You have my number.

PTau

No hysteria JHG, just possibilities and history of past viruses. We all must do our best these days. The science of industrial farming is not always on your side.

Para A: Yes, the pigs are away from people. Only one of the new barns is a "closed" barn. Yours and the others, are curtain barns. No filters, just fans.

Para B: The Gayville Hwy 50 barn is above the shallow aquifer, about 50' give or take. Nitpick the numbers if you want, it's more than that. Concrete walls and floors will fail someday. The inspection is once for a new pit, while empty. I believe this is for State permitted barns, but I could be wrong. A one time look and no monitoring wells? ...we can do better. Due in part to the unregulated plans for these smaller facilities, the field runoff over time will cause damage. I hope your buffer strips keep the manure on your sloping fields before getting to the James.

Para C to F: Nice subject change. I agree, the West side septic systems are problomatic. Discussions have taken place by this commission, but hopes for a solution are dim. The past commission approved more septic facilities, along with every hog barn. The Dr was not implying the aquifer supplies the City, but the homes from wells throughout the County.

Maybe we will find some balance someday. But my hopes, well, are dim as well. Let's come to the table JHG. You have my number.

PTau

No hysteria JHG, just possibilities and history of past viruses. We all must do our best these days. The science of industrial farming is not always on your side.

Para A: Only one of the new barns is a "closed" barn. Yours and the others, are curtain barns. No filters, just fans.

Para B: The Gayville Hwy 50 barn is above the shallow aquifer, about 50'. Nitpick the numbers if you want, it's more than that. Concrete walls and floors will fail someday. The inspection is once for a new pit only. I believe this is for State permitted barns, but I could be wrong. A one time look and no monitoring wells? ...we can do better. The real issue for these smaller unregulated facilities, is field runoff over time. I hope your buffer strips keep the manure on your sloping fields before getting to the James.

Para C to F: Nice subject change. I agree, the West side septic systems are problematic. Discussions have taken place by this commission. Hopes for a solution are dim. The past commission approved more septic facilities, along with every hog barn. The Dr was not implying the aquifer supplies the City, but the homes from wells throughout the County.

Maybe we will find some balance someday. But my hopes, well, are dim alsp. Let's come to the table JHG. You have my number.

Pig pen williams

I hope all the $$ you are getting to feed the Chinese is worth it! Destruction of our environment, neighbors feuding with neighbors, lawsuit after lawsuit. And to top it off the Corona virus that very likely started in a Hog Confinement in China! How many people are the CAFO's going to make sick or worse. Should be ashamed!

Ar223

Hope you never eat a pork product. A large majority of the Chines pigs you are talking about never leave this country. Just like the grain they are buying. It is used rite in our own counrty. Never leaving the ports.

Ar223

All the talk about clean water from town folks who, in my opinion, have not a clear picture of raising livestock or farming in general. Everyone eats pork, beef, chiken and turkey. If they realy want to worry about things getting into the water maybe they should take a good look at all the fertelizer and chemicals that are used on lawns in there town. How many of them are licensed applicators or have even been to a chemical applicator meeting like most farmers have attend on a regular basis? I have seen homeowners just dump left over lawn chemicals down a storm drain. were do they think that goes?

ConcernedMD

I wish to point out to Dr. Schenk an article by Paul Lantos et al from Duke University published in the pier reviewed medical journal, Clinical Infectious Diseases (CID), a journal she should be aware of. The article is, “Are People Living Near Modern Swine Production Facilities at Increased Risk of Influenza Virus Infection? Volume 63, Issue 12, 15 December 2016. The simple answer is yes. He presents data that clearly shows faster spread of influenza derived from pigs in counties that have higher concentrations of hog barns. I point out that little comfort should be taken by her contention that the manure pool is a vault lined by water proof material. A well known and respected concrete contractor told me that there are three certainties in life: death, taxes and CRACKED CONCRETE. My skepticism about the safety of her barn is bolstered by the fact that the DENR seems powerless to shut down a barn operation even for the most flagrant violations of any regulation the facility was permitted under. One needs to remember that one 2500 head facility when operating at capacity produces roughly the same manure volume as the entire human population of Yankton County. Where is all that manure going to go? Is there a regular inspection and monitoring of her manure pool integrity to be sure there is no leak of manure into the underlying aquifer? Does she own the pigs she feeds and from who and by what means are the pigs coming into her facility screened for variant viruses? What health screening is there of her employees? If there is a failure of the manure pool leading to pollution of the aquifer, who bares the cost of the cleanup if there even is one? I guess my reluctance to embrace the widespread use of swine CAFOs in their current form is that the technology deployed is clearly not state of the art, and has been demonstrated in multiple studies to be an environmental and health risk to both the public and the workers involved. There are methods of odor control developed in universities in our own state that are totally ignored by the CAFO industry. Locating these CAFOs seems to be more influenced by who wants to put them up rather than by the appropriateness of the location. The priority is to feed China not to make agriculture safer for the US citizen. Unfortunately, our Governor subscribes to this idea.

JH Gunderson

Correction. The City of Yankton does have a permit to dispose of the solids from the city water treatment plant. Municipalities permits are filed under another section of the SD DENR. I thank the person who called me, and politely informed me of my error.

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