Egypt: Combating H1N1 with pigs culling

While the world is busy trying to figure out a way for necessarily precautions to stop swine flu or H1N1 from spreading, the Egyptian government decided to take one more step forward and cull all pigs in the country. Since then bloggers, as well as mainstream media, have been engaged in a long debate whether this is a wise decision, or whether the crisis should have been managed in a better way. Some are convinced Egypt should get rid of all pigs as soon as possible, so as not to repeat its experience with bird flu. Others are curious to know how the government will reward the pig farmers.

Maryanne, an American expat living in Egypt, wrote a short post with her reaction about the slaughter:

It was announced on international news that the Egyptian government would force farmers to slaughter all their pigs to prevent swine flu. This is almost as intelligent as Paris Hilton telling people that she wasn't worried about it because she doesn't eat pork. The pigs are irrelevant at this stage. The flu is transmitted from human contact and according to some WHO officials isn't nearly the threat that the bird flu is. I suspect the combination of the word “swine”, the cultural taboo on pork, and the almost universal ignorance among bureaucrats of how disease is spread is almost irresistible. There are quite a number of modern, properly run pig farms in Egypt…just as we have quite a few properly run examples of almost anything here…except maybe government officials

Moftasa, an Egyptian doctor who was as provoked as Maryanne, wrote two posts. One of them asks if people really think slaughtering pigs in Egypt will prevent swine flu from entering through the airport:

Swine flu will enter Egypt through its borders and not from pigs. The funds that will go in compensating farmers can be better directed to improve the appalling sanitation of the pig farms and the conditions of their farmers not to the eradication of a local variety of an entire specie.

Then Alaa, replied to Moftasa's twitter that he believes there might be a sectarian zeal behind such decision.

Bent Masrya, a female blogger, wrote her thoughts against the government's decision, despite her hatred towards pigs – as she admitted:

انا مش مضطرة أوضح اني مسلمة وعارفة ان اكل الخنازير حرام، بس كمان عارفة ان قتل/صيد الحيوانات من غير سبب حرام. والخنزير رغم اني مش بحبه “عشان شكله وحش”، ومش بحب ابص له حتى، لكن كراهيتي الطفولية دي ليه ماينفعش تعميني عن ادراك حقهم في الحياة.. طول ما هم مش مصابين ولا نيلة
I'm not obliged to point out that I am a Muslim, who knows that eating pigs is haram (prohibited), but I also know that killing / hunting without a reason is haram. And although I don't like pigs “because they are ugly,” my childish hatred should not blind me from realizing their right to live – as long as they are not infected.

In agreement with Moftasa, Bent Masrya expressed her fear that the flu might hit Egypt though the borders, especially after the discovery of two infected cases in Israel:

اسرائيل اللي هي جارتنا لزم عندها حالتين اصابة، ومعروف طبعا ان المواطنين الاسرائيليين بيقدروا يدخلوا سينا من غير تأشيرات -بموجب معاهدة السلام- يا ترى هنعمل ايه وهنواجه موقف العدوى ازاي.. وخصوصا ان انفلونزا الخنازير بتتنقل من انسان لإنسان
Two infected cases have been discovered in Israel, which is our direct neighbor, and it's well known that Israeli citizens are allowed to enter Sinai without a visa -according to the peace treaty between Egypt and Israel. So I wonder how will we face this situation especially that swine flu transfers are now between people.

AbdelRahman Ayyash, who didn't agree with Bent Masrya‘s opinion, commented to her post:

القرار و لو كان في ظاهره ان في ظلم للخنازير في مصر ، فاحنا عندنا ادارة الازمات .. لو حصل و الانفلونزا اتنقلت لمصر ، هتبقى مجزرة ، هيبقى وباء حقيقي .. انتي متخيلة معنى ان المرض يتنقل من انسان لانسان في بلد زي مصر سكانها كلهم متركزين في اقل من 4% من مساحتها .. متخيلة هيبقى الوباء عامل ازاي؟
و على فكرة ان اتمنعت تربية الدواجن في البيوت وقت انفلونزا الطيور ، و لو حصل ده للخرفان او لأي ماشية تانية .. الموضوع اعتقد هيبقى خلصان
الحكومة مش بتكره الخنازير يعني فعشان كده خدت القرار ده
Even if the decision might seem unjust to pigs in Egypt, we have a crisis management. If the flu entered Egypt, it will be a real pandemic, that might cause a human massacre. Do you imagine the meaning of the disease's ability to transfer between humans in a country like Egypt – where all citizens are centralized in less than 4 per cent of the country's area?.. Can you imagine how the pandemic will look like?
And by the way,  if raising poultry in houses was banned at the time of bird flu, and if this happened to any other cattle or sheep, I think there will be no problems.
The government doesn't hate pigs to take such action.
@Fustat asking why "Swine flu" has been named to H1N1

@Fustat asking why "Swine flu" has been named to H1N1 just after Egypt decided to kill all "swines" in the country.

Egyptian Watchman, a blogger and human rights activist who started a fierce fight against the government decision of culling 300,000 pigs, highlighted other important precautions people should follow to prevent infection on the individual level.

Similarly, Ghawayesh, in a post entitled save miss piggy, named a few benefits of keeping pigs to the balance of the eco-system, as well as highlighting other important precautions to fight the disease starting from now.

On the other hand, Zeinobia who was with killing the pigs, discussed her concerns towards the dirty conditions Egyptian pigs are brought up in, that might as well be one of the reasons behind spreading of bird flu before. She also criticized the opinions that claimed killing pigs will lead to sectarian division.

Those dirty pigs should be eliminated as soon as possible ,we can’t jeopardize the life of millions for no good reason. Already you can’t imagine how those pigs live or where they live in ,they do not suffer yet from H1N1 but for sure the unhealthy environment they live will make them suffer from other diseases.
Those pigs are raised eating garbage only with no medical care , only now the ministries of agriculture and health are paying attention to them !!
Please do not tell me this will lead to a sectarian division as this is the most ridiculous talk I have heard because for years now we are speaking about how dangerous those pigs are in Egypt in the time of H5N1 !! I do not know why no one has objected when poultry were eliminated from three years ago !!

She further explained how she thinks the disease might spread, due the lack of medical awareness on the part of the pigs’ owners and garbage collectors:

Now if the pigs are infected ,they will infect the farmers and their kids whom by their turn will infect other people in a direct contact including the garbage collectors and the garbage collectors have a direct contact hundreds of citizens !!! We are talking about uncontrolled industry.

On the other hand, Mohamed Hani notified his readers about a new Twitter account to follow global Swine flu updates, and as usual Hossam was in solidarity but with pigs -this time- against the slaughter.


Photo by Per Bjorklund — People's uproar in Ezbet el-Nekhl after the government's decision to slaughter all pigs in Egypt.

You can also check Per Bjorklund‘s photographs set on flickr from Ezbet el-Nakhl, were pig farmers and garbage collectors were in an uproar over the government's decision to kill all pigs over the “pig flu pandemic”, and his thoughts ; and visit Egyptian Facebook groups with and against the government's decision to cull all pigs: Egypt without pigs, cull all Egyptian pigs, and together to get rid of pigs.


  • The Egyptian government claims that it will instead build large “European-style” pig farms, and as a European who knows all too well about the horrific conditions in which pigs are raised in our factory farms, this is revolting.

  • […] While the world is busy trying to figure out a way for necessarily precautions to stop swine flu or H1N1 from spreading, the Egyptian government decided to take one more step forward and cull all pigs in the country. .. Read the original:  Global Voices Online » Egypt: Combating H1N1 with pigs culling […]

  • Kristina Bergmann

    Many things are said – well done. Just one thing: All those who so cleverly advise for killing of the pigs should visit the garbage towns, where the zaballeen bring the (unsorted) garbage of many Cairenes, sort it out, sell the plastic and metal and give the eadible garbage to the pigs. Yes, the conditions there are incredible, durty etc. But I am in full admiration for those people and for the pigs! They do the durty job for us, who just throw away anything in the same bin and then do not care – also you, my dear Zeinobia, and all those phantastic people who complain about garbage collectors and pigs. Image how clever a pig is to live just on garbage – to cost nothing and to do a precious job, which is to get rid of the garbage! Besides, nobody is forced to eat pig meat or even to look at them. About what are you really complaining? About pigs? No, I think in fact you dont like the garbage collectors and the poor. Then: do something to eleminate poverty and get rid of your garbage yourself! Kristina

  • Kristina Bergmann

    I forget something important: if you will go to the garbage cities, you will be amazed to see how healthy the pigs are – and also the people living there! Probably those pigs and garbage collectors have a much better immunity than us, who live in perfect cleanliness! So they might survive us if there is any epidemie or pandemie. Is this the reason why they must die??

  • Every week new Avian Flu cases are reported in Egypt, I don’t see the Egyptian government killing ALL poultry.
    not a single case of swine flu has been reported in Egypt, while Avian Flu has claimed the lives of dozens of Egyptians.
    This doesn’t add up, not as the way the Egyptian government is trying to justify it anyway.

  • Ibn Verga

    I don’t know what is the outcry about. More people per year die from common flu. I think the governments try to keep us “the unwashed hordes” from the economical mess we are in. Good diversion!

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