Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Bird flu hits staple of Egypt's streets

From Yahoo News

TAWFIQIYA, Egypt - Chickens used to roam every dusty street in every village across Egypt, and many of its city alleys too.

But bird flu is changing that. Chickens have nearly all vanished from sight, slaughtered, abandoned or locked away by a population increasingly aware of, and frightened by, the disease's stubborn grip.

Even as bird flu has dropped out of global headlines, experts are worried about its persistence around the world. With 47 human cases and 20 deaths, Egypt is the third most affected country after Indonesia and Vietnam.

For the past two years the government has been trying to change the deep-rooted poultry-rearing behaviors that have turned the country of 76 million people into a bird flu hot spot.

But only with the rising death toll — mostly rural women who traditionally tend chickens — have Egypt's poor finally grasped the need to alter their ways.
But while Egyptians may be safer from bird flu, they have lost a key source of protein.

Chicken once provided 43 percent of Egyptians' protein needs, but egg and chicken prices are doubling.

"It was very cheap before this outbreak, the cheapest meat you can get here in Egypt," said John Jabbour of the Eastern Mediterranean office of the World Health Organization. "Poultry in the backyard was a matter of breakfast, lunch and dinner."

Read the entire article at Yahoo News

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