Message on Face Masks Says Blame Meat-Eaters for Missouri Bird Flu Outbreak

Crowded, Filthy Conditions Breed Disease

For Immediate Release:
March 13, 2015

Stephanie Jaffa 202-483-7382

Jefferson City, Mo.

In response to the news that highly pathogenic H5N2 bird flu has been detected on Missouri poultry farms, PETA, whose motto reads, in part, that “animals are not ours to eat,” has sent a letter to Gov. Jay Nixon offering a supply of specially printed face masks designed to help citizens avoid contracting the strain and think about reassessing the root cause of the problem: intensive animal agriculture. The masks also read, “Factory Farming Breeds Bird Flu. Go Vegan,” raising awareness about the role of animal agriculture in the spread of bird flu strains, as chickens typically spend their entire lives standing amid their own waste in cramped, filthy conditions—an ideal breeding ground for pathogens.

“Diseases like bird flu spread like wildfire when thousands of birds are confined to filthy sheds, surrounded by their own waste, and breathing ammonia-laden air,” says PETA Executive Vice President Tracy Reiman. “PETA is calling on Governor Nixon to do the right thing for animals and the health of his constituents by giving vegan meals a try—and encouraging others to follow suit.” PETA pledges to help with recipes, tips, and even free food.

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PETA’s letter to Jay Nixon, governor of Missouri, follows.

March 13, 2015

The Honorable Jay Nixon
Governor of Missouri

Dear Governor Nixon,

I’m writing on behalf of People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) and our more than 3 million members and supporters, including many across Missouri. In light of the recent reports of avian influenza in your state, we’d like to offer you a supply of our specially printed anti–bird flu masks for distribution wherever you see fit. The masks not only provide immediate protection from pathogens that lurk on factory farms but also suggest a more permanent solution: how to eliminate the filthy disease reservoirs in which birds and other animals are raised for food today—that is, by going vegan.

Just walk into any chicken or turkey shed on a factory farm, and it’s easy to see why cases of bird flu are cropping up again. One shed may house tens of thousands of birds who are never allowed outside into fresh air. These sensitive, inquisitive animals are surrounded by their own waste and breathe ammonia-laden air that burns their lungs and damages their immune systems. The conditions in these sheds are ideal for the breeding of dangerous pathogens because birds live amid their own feces from birth to slaughter. When one bird gets sick, the disease can quickly spread to all the other birds in a shed.

According to the World Health Organization, human beings can become infected with bird flu by eating undercooked infected chicken and by eating food prepared on the same cutting board as contaminated chicken meat or eggs—and in many other easy ways. Even touching the broken eggshells of infected eggs puts consumers at risk.

With the myriad animal-free options available today—from crispy grain tenders and orange vegan chicken to protein-packed deli slices that taste delicious with egg-free mayonnaise—it’s quite simply foolish to continue to support an industry that recklessly endangers human health and routinely abuses animals in ways that would be illegal if the victims were dogs or cats.

Thank you for your consideration.

Very truly yours,

Tracy Reiman
Executive Vice President

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