Egypt Culls 300,000 Pigs In Response to Swine Flu Virus

At the time of writing this post, there are 6 confirmed cases of swine flu now in Israel. Out of fear that the virus might spread to Egypt, authorities there have ordered the slaughter of the country’s 300,000 pigs, reports the Associated Press. You would assume that Israel being a “kosher” Jewish country wouldn’t be raising pork, but certain loopholes that don’t raise the pigs on the land allow the pig industry to survive.

“It has been decided to immediately start slaughtering all the pigs in Egypt using the full capacity of the country’s slaughterhouses,” Health Minister Hatem el-Gabaly told reporters after a Cabinet meeting with President Hosni Mubarak.

While it’s not exactly clear how swine flu first started –- reports are that it “jumped” to humans in Mexico where the animals where being raised in squalor (and in mass feeding operations) – it is still not sure if killing all pigs will effect the transmission of the flu.

“But where did it originate? David Kirby has some ideas, and they involve “confined animal feeding operations”, or CAFOs. There are hundreds of such operations with pigs in Mexico. The more animals get clustered together, and the more time they spend in that state, the more viruses will spread between them—and the thousands of humans that work at the CAFOs. Free range proponents take note–this could’ve been pevented with more sanitary animal living conditions.”

A Reuter’s report, via the blog ConnectAfrica, also from today, says that Egypt is “just considering” the mass slaughter, and this has been prompted mainly because the pigs in the country are raised in terrible conditions:

““The question now is should we kill them or relocate them, and the prevailing idea now is to kill the existing (pigs) and of course compensate their owners,” cabinet spokesman Magdy Rady said on Wednesday. He put the number of pigs that could be culled at between 300,000 and 400,000, and said a decision was expected in days.

““If you see the conditions of the swine farms in Egypt, they are not healthy at all. They are hazards in themselves, even without the swine flu. That’s why people are really getting afraid,” he told Reuters.”

Will culling all the world’s pigs stop this virus from reaching pandemic proportions?  When will us humans learn that when we don’t treat nature with respect, and raise animals with dignity, that nature will just bite us back.

Update: As of April 30, the cases of swine flu in Israel has been downgraded from 6 to 2

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