Day 66, Part 2 – Pigs

We (humans) are not the only ones in South Africa struggling with a virus problem.

There are now outbreaks of African Swine Fever in three provinces: Eastern Cape, the Free State and Mpumalanga. And so the Department of Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development (broad portfolio, bru) are advising that pigs are subjected to some of the same restrictions as humans to avoid the further spread of the virus:

There you have it.

Socially distance and self-isolate your pigs. Disinfect their surroundings regularly.

Keep them off beaches and out of National Parks. Ensure they wash their trotters for at least 30 seconds at a time. Don’t (or do) (or don’t) allow them to go back to school. Cook their food thoroughly.

Ensure they wear a mask and only exercise between 6-9am. Quarantine them where necessary. Only allow them to buy alcohol on Level 3. Keep them away from warthogs.


Do not get them wet or feed them after midnight.


Right. I think that covers everything. Bring on the next viral pandemic.

Was the E.coli outbreak started deliberately?

Was the E.coli outbreak started deliberately? In a word, no.

But that hasn’t stopped the conspiracy theorists theorising in a conspiracic manner. In particular, Mike Adams, aka “the Health Ranger” and Editor of

The evidence now points to this deadly strain of e.coli [sic] being engineered and then either being released into the food supply or somehow escaping from a lab and entering the food supply inadvertently. If you disagree with that conclusion — and you’re certainly welcome to — then you are forced to conclude that this octobiotic superbug (immune to eight classes of antibiotics) developed randomly on its own… and that conclusion is far scarier than the “bioengineered” explanation because it means octobiotic superbugs can simply appear anywhere at any time without cause. That would be quite an exotic theory indeed.

My conclusion actually makes more sense: This strain of e.coli [sic] was almost certainly engineered and then released into the food supply for a specific purpose.

He even comes up with a new word “Octobiotic”  that when subjected to some basic etymology (literally “Eight living component of a community”) doesn’t actually mean what he probably wants it to mean. What a tosser.

Adams’ argument is that there is no way that this could have happened accidentally.

There’s really only one way this happens (and only one way) — you have to expose this strain of e.coli [sic] to all eight classes of antibiotics drugs.

So Adams reckons that there must have been some “dark forces” at work to genetically engineer such a resistant bacterial strain. Now I don’t want to get all technical on you here, but theoretically, it could be done by subjecting the bugs in question to an antibiotic (let’s call it antibiotic 1) and by using natural selection to naturally select the resistant bacteria – ie. the one that don’t die – you have bugs that are resistant to antibiotic 1.
Then you expose them to the next antibiotic (2) and take the ones that survive. These bugs are now resistant to antibiotics 1 and 2. Then you to expose to antibiotic 3 and… look you get the idea, I’m sure.

And yes, to the uneducated, (like Adams) perhaps it does sound like this could never have happened accidentally. But (sadly) that’s actually exactly what happens in hospitals every day.
And thus, hospitals are breeding grounds for superbugs. Something Mike Adams might have known if he’d only read this 2009 post entitled Hospitals Are Breeding Grounds for Superbugs by… er… Mike Adams, aka “the Health Ranger”:

On the pharmaceutical side, superbugs are also caused by the rampant abuse of antibiotics by doctors, who seem to prescribe them for everything under the sun –  including those things that are completely unaffected by antibiotics such as viral infections.

Oh dear.

But despite his own damning evidence against his own preposterous claim, Adams brings another gem to the precious stone party:

For example, if this bacteria originated in the food (as we’ve been told), then where did it acquire all this antibiotic resistance given the fact that antibiotics are not used in vegetables?

Well, that’s bullshit, Mike. Not just your idea, but the answer to your question as well. Antibiotics, given to cows, excreted in their faeces, which are then used to fertilise our salad crops.

All of which pours cold water on Adams’ theory that:

Nearly all the deaths now attributable to this e.coli [sic] outbreak are deaths of ignorance. But even more, they may also be deaths from a new era of food-based bioweapons unleashed by either a group of mad scientists or an agenda-driven institution that has declared war on the human population.

Ignorance. It kills. Something Mike Adams might want to consider before ever writing anything ever again.

Death by virus

The recent outbreak of presumed viral haemorrhagic fever in Johannesburg has understandably got the tabloid press into a frenzy and once again proved that they will do anything to sensationalise a story. It has also shown that their knowledge of microbiology is non-existent: they probably think “bacteria” means to return home sadder than when you left.

Authorities have not yet identified the causal agent of the outbreak, which has claimed three lives, hence it’s monikers “Mystery virus” or “Killer virus“.  The Times has a timeline of the outbreak, wonderfully titled “Chronology of Death*”. The fact that the likely culprit is endemic in parts of South Africa anyway hasn’t stopped the reporters hiding their disappointment at the lack of further victims behind expert analysis – like that of ex-Springbok rugby star turned epidemiologist** Corné Krige, whose cousin was the index case.

A concerned Krige, who captained the Springboks to the 2003 World Cup, said it was scary that the killer virus had not been identified.

The Times has labelled the health department “clueless”, when in actual fact, their response to this potentially very serious outbreak has been exemplary. They have contained the infection, limited its spread in a very short time and therefore avoided causing widespread panic – even in the face of some truly dreadful reporting.  

* To be said in a deep movie announcers voice.
** No.