Friday, May 1, 2009

Clashes Reported in Egypt as Officials Seek to Cull All Pigs

"Police and veterinary services had stones thrown at them when they went to a pig-rearing area and had to withdraw, without taking any pigs," a security official told AFP, requesting anonymity.

Gabali said Egypt — one of the countries most affected by the deadly H5N1 strain of bird flu and where 26 people have died as a result of that disease — was taking the threat of swine flu "very seriously".

Further precautionary measures such as launching an awareness campaign and increasing production of protective masks and the antiviral drug Tamiflu would also be taken, he said.

Egypt's agriculture ministry says there are 250,000 pigs in the country, belonging to and eaten by members of the Coptic Christian minority.

Pig rearers in Cairo's slums — mostly Christian rubbish collectors — were outraged by the country's reaction to swine flu.

"Our pigs are healthy. They are our capital and they have no diseases," said Adel Ishak, a rubbish collector from Manshiet Nasser, northeast of Cairo.

Ayman Saad, who raises pigs in Batn al-Baqqar, said the authorities had told him he would receive compensation of about $144 per animal.

"How long will the compensation feed us for? A year? Is the government going to pay for our children's education?" Ishak complained."

***The WHO, FAO, and OIE all reiterated that the current flu virus circulating, H1N1, has not yet been found in animals, unlike H5N1, Avian Flu, which so far has only been contracted through close proximity to infected poultry.

H1N1 is different. This virus spreads from person to person. Contact with pigs or consumption of pork products are not at all associated with becoming ill from the new 2009 H1N1 flu virus. This measure has resulted in the loss of livelihoods of these individuals and so far has no bearing in public health data authorities have gathered.***

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