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Bird flu continues to spread in Egypt, hitting poultry trade - Daily News Egypt

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Bird flu continues to spread in Egypt, hitting poultry trade

CAIRO: Bird flu has spread to new parts of Egypt, adding to the devastation in a poultry industry which provided almost 50 percent of the animal protein consumed by Egyptians, officials said on Monday. Health Minister Hatem El-Gabali said cases of the disease had turned up in Minufia, Sharkia and Kafr El-Sheikh provinces in the …


CAIRO: Bird flu has spread to new parts of Egypt, adding to the devastation in a poultry industry which provided almost 50 percent of the animal protein consumed by Egyptians, officials said on Monday. Health Minister Hatem El-Gabali said cases of the disease had turned up in Minufia, Sharkia and Kafr El-Sheikh provinces in the Nile Delta and in Fayoum, a farming region on a branch of the Nile which runs into the desert southwest of Cairo. The sudden arrival and spread of the disease over the past four days has caused widespread panic among Egyptians, despite the government s attempts to reassure them that the health risk to ordinary people is minimal. “Of course I don t buy chicken. I m afraid, afraid for myself, my family and all the people. Who isn t afraid of disease? said Om Mohammed, a shopper at a Cairo market. Newspapers reported suspected cases among humans but officials said all tests on humans had proved negative. A U.N. official said the economic effect could be severe because the demand for chicken has collapsed and the industry, which was worth about LE 17 billion ($3 billion) in investments, supports between 2.5 million and 3 million people. Where available, chicken, the meat many Egyptians used to eat most regularly, is selling at below LE 5 a kg ($0.40 a lb), from LE 14 before the disease arrived. Small poultry merchants have closed up shop and the French-owned supermarket Carrefour in Cairo has removed all chicken meat from its shelves, shoppers said. Ahmed Abdel Azim, a Cairo poultry seller, said: It s finished. Nobody s buying chicken … How are we going to work? It s the same work millions do. The government doesn t pressure us to close, but with bird flu in the news, people are afraid. In response, the price of fish has risen 40 percent but demand has risen even faster, shopkeepers said on Monday. Talib Murad Ali, the Food and Agriculture Organization s regional officer for animal health, told Reuters that countries like Egypt would be particularly hard hit economically. “Worldwide poultry accounts for about 20 percent of the animal protein consumed. But in Egypt it was 45 to 50 percent of all meat and fish and it was a third of the price of red meat. It s the only protein to which the poor have access, he said. The main reason for the prevalence of poultry is that grazing land is so scarce in the arid Middle East, he said. The region is also especially vulnerable to animal diseases because it imports so many live animals, sometimes without strict regulation, he said. “Sometimes we say that every piece of meat on a kebab skewer comes from a different country, he added. Egypt has been tackling an outbreak of foot and mouth disease in the Nile Delta for the last two to three weeks and this has already put pressure on beef and milk supplies, he said. The government has responded with a vaccination campaign. The government has promised compensation for people who have to slaughter their chickens but it has not worked out the details yet and has not made any payments, an official said. On Friday, the government told people to get rid of the poultry they keep at home or on rooftops, but by Monday not everyone had complied, even in central Cairo. Reuters

Topics: Aboul Fotouh

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https://dailyfeed.dailynewsegypt.com/2006/02/21/bird-flu-continues-to-spread-in-egypt-hitting-poultry-trade/
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