DEAR READERS: Some contend that the coronavirus associated with this pandemic is far less harmful than officials say. But there are many factors that can make this virus more dangerous for some than for others: genetics and preexisting health conditions, certainly, but also factors related to culture, socioeconomic status, nutritional habits and environmental factors.
Regarding the latter, particulate air pollution and poor room ventilation are especially important. This is an issue in schools, places of worship, theaters and sports stadiums. In these venues, and increasingly in people’s homes and workplaces, we also have concentrated electropollution to worry about. In laboratory studies, electropollution has been shown to impair the immune and neuroendocrine systems of many animal species when they are exposed to the kind of nonionizing radiation and electromagnetic fields generated by some telecommunication systems.
All of these factors make any new contagious virus potentially more harmful, and there are emerging viral pandemics on the horizon, according to epidemiologists.
So these factors all need to be addressed, especially the anthropogenic environmental contributions to our susceptibility to contagious diseases. Investing in more vaccinations and drug treatments will be profitable for a few, but not beneficial for most, and will not solve the root problem. Since animals both wild and domesticated are the sources of constantly mutating epidemic and pandemic diseases, our cruel, profit-driven exploitation of all animals should be terminated -- for their well-being, as well as our own.
DEAR DR. FOX: Just wanted to thank you for sharing your article entitled “Animal Affection: A Spiritual Connection.” As an empath, and someone who will never understand how people could kill an animal for “sport,” your words resonated with me.
Though my dog would not be considered a wild animal, I had a very strong spiritual connection with her, and your article evoked a number of fond emotions for me. The last one was when I had to say goodbye to DeeDee on my birthday earlier this year. I honestly believe she held out just for that day. -- B.M., Broken Arrow, Oklahoma
DEAR B.M.: I am glad that my brief essay resonated with you. Another reader wrote to me, complaining that I was anthropomorphizing animals and should stick to science and medicine. But subjective, emotional states of both the animal patient and the attending veterinarian are essential aspects of holistic healing -- and often, of diagnostics, which can become intuitive with enough experience.
Years ago, I cited scientific studies that showed that the attitude of farm workers toward the animals under their care greatly influenced animals’ health and productivity. Empathy is the key. But empathy may become impaired during the course of veterinary (and human) medical education, as other studies have documented: The patient becomes objectified and the empathy connection is broken. Sometimes this is a defense mechanism to distance oneself from another’s suffering. I feel for those dedicated staff in our hospitals today dealing with COVID-19 patients, just as I do with those who work in animal shelters and must euthanize healthy animals because of a lack of resources, if not expertise, to rehabilitate them into adoptable animal companions.
In the final analysis, as I see it, our redemption, the recovery of our humanity and our ultimate well-being will come in large part through our renunciation of a culture and economy of harm. Such a liberating redemption is at the core of all the world’s religions and secular humanism, when shorn of politics and human-centeredness. Reverential respect for all our nonhuman relations is long overdue.
(Send all mail to email@example.com or to Dr. Michael Fox in care of Andrews McMeel Syndication, 1130 Walnut St., Kansas City, MO 64106. The volume of mail received prohibits personal replies, but questions and comments of general interest will be discussed in future columns.
Visit Dr. Fox’s website at DrFoxOneHealth.com.)