75% of new and emerging diseases are transmitted through contact with animals, according to the CDC. That includes pandemics like COVID-19, SARS, AIDS, bird flu, swine flu, mad cow disease, the Spanish flu, etc.
At factory farms, animals live in crowded and confined conditions, spending a lot of time in their own urine and fecal matter. From contact with fences and wires along with contact with each other, they get open sores and lesions. Bacteria thrives in both scenarios and that is where disease starts and spreads rapidly. In an attempt to protect their investment (the livestock), factory farms often inject the animals with antibiotics, which are then eaten by humans when they eat animal flesh, building up human resistance to antibiotics. Thus, humans become resistant to antibiotics used to combat diseases and viruses like coronavirus.
On factory farms, when the waste that animals are forced to live, stand and sleep in is washed away, it often forms a manure lagoon, which poses additional health and environmental risks. Manure lagoons are highly susceptible to spills and leaks, such as when storms, hurricanes and floods occur, making the problem more threatening to human health.
Another major source of infectious zoonotic diseases comes from fairs and wet markets where animals come in contact with the waste, blood and pus from other animals, causing disease that is easily transmitted from animals to humans.
The best way to stop new diseases, halt the spread of diseases and to reduced the environmental damage done by animal agriculture is to change our relationship with animals. We’ve got to stop eating them, stop breeding them to be eaten, and stop consuming animal products (dairy). If we do this, we will reduce our risk of new diseases and pandemics by 75%.