A scientist has claimed half the world’s population could be wiped out by a killer virus linked to chickens.
American nutritionist Dr Michael Greger made the prediction in his new book “How To Survive A Pandemic” and called for changes in the way poultry is farmed globally.
He said cramped conditions in which chickens are farmed is the perfect breeding ground for disease such as bird flu, The Mirror reported.
"The more animals are jammed together, the more spins the virus may get at the roulette wheel while gambling for the pandemic jackpot that may be hidden in the lining of the chickens’ lungs," he explains.
Dr Greger said the threat posed is greater than that of the current coronavirus outbreak which has so far infected more than 6 million people and killed 371,041 people.
He believes a virus from birds has the potential to be “100 times worse” than COVID-19, and could produce a “fatality rate of one in two”.
"With pandemics explosively spreading a virus from human to human, it’s never a matter of if, but when," he says.
Dr Greger points to the bird flu outbreak in Hong Kong in 1997 where infection was acquired directly from chickens. Six of 18 people who were infected died.
While more than a million chickens were killed in a bid to eliminate the virus, there has since been further outbreaks in China.
“The worry is that the virus never stands still but is always mutating. This is the monster lurking in the undergrowth, the one that makes epidemiologists shudder,” he writes.
He called for poultry to be raised in smaller flocks with improved hygiene to try and slow the spread of viruses.
Dr Greger, a vegan, explains a way to minimise the risk, a diet without chickens or ducks could be adopted globally.
Yet he warns that “as long as there is poultry, there will be pandemics”.
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