The consumption of cat and dog meat may be playing a role in “massive human rabies epidemics” in Asia. (Some people may find some of the concepts and images in this video disturbing.)
Images thanks to CDC/Barbara Andrews via Wikimedia Commons, Mr & Mrs Stickyfingers and Liooneel / Flickr
Normally, rabies is only contracted by getting bitten by a rabid animal, but case reports have been published of people coming down with rabies without any such history, like these two from Vietnam. In a truly man-bites-dog story, they both came down with rabies after butchering and consuming a dog or cat. The rabies virus should be killed by proper cooking, but they think it was the preparation of their brains that may have generated large amounts of virus. The dog brains were eaten steamed, but the cat's brains were pulped with bare hands to make some special dish. The doctors suggest the butchering and consumption of dogs should be better regulated, as high as 2% of dogs in slaughterhouses may be infected. Same percentage found infected in China. In fact the long-distance live animal transport of dogs for the meat trade may be a factor in the massive human rabies epidemics in southern China, where farmers can get as much as $12-15 per dog. The dog meat trade may also be playing a role in the spread of rabies in the Philippines, though again, as a doc with the Department of Health pointed out, “If the animal is cooked, the virus is destroyed, but many are eaten raw. And even if they're cooked, there may be cross-contamination during handling and preparation. Anyone cutting up a dead dog can transmit the virus to themselves if they touch their eyes or lips while they have traces of the dog’s fluids on their hands."
To see any graphs, charts, graphics, images, and quotes to which Dr. Greger may be referring watch the above video. This is just an approximation of the audio contributed by Jonathan Hodgson.
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Cross-contamination of foodborne pathogens during meat preparation is an issue regardless of the species. See, for example, Food Poisoning Bacteria Cross-Contamination and Unsafe at Any Feed. For a cheerier video, Are Cats or Dogs More Protective For Children's Health? is queued up next, featuring our 13-year-old Lilly!
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