What a strange coincidence that a potentially pandemic illness originating from domesticated livestock mushrooms at the exact same time I am reading Guns, Germs, and Steel by Jared Diamond.
In simplified terms, Diamond describes in his book how food-producing populations have been exposed for thousands of years to influenzas and other diseases carried by domesticated animals. Those with the genetic strength to overcome the illnesses or avoid them all-together lived to reproduce and, thus, propagate their genetic supremacy. Some bugs are meaner then others, hence the bubonic plague and Ebola virus.
These inevitable illnesses have made quite a mark on the development on human geopolitical history. Because food producers (FP) were exposed to these diseases and overcame them while hunter gatherers (HG) did not, the FPs easily decimated or wiped out many an HG tribe and culture. Smallpox has quite the reputation for being such a population reducer.
The main point here, however, is that as much horror and, possibly, death as the avian flu or the swine flu might wreak upon the global population, diseases transmitted from animals to humans are as natural as exinction. So long as humans live in close quarters with animals, and such cohabitation is unavoidable, the potential pandemic is always around the corner.
Me, I try not to be a germ-a-phobe. With weakened immune systems, our bodies cannot handle contact with the feces of many beasties. Sure, we don’t want to give each other illnesses, but a little dirty is good. So, I’ll start the Just Say No To the Wipey and Hand Sanitizer Campaign now.
As survival of the fittest is real, the cleaner we become as a species, the weaker we become. Looking on the bright side, it may not matter anyway since we’re killing our environment so rapidly, our only hope is space pods on Mars. Hello! Point me to the nearest mass-suicide cult ASAP!