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.
Bent Masrya, a female blogger, wrote her thoughts against the government's decision, despite her hatred towards pigs – as she admitted:
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:
AbdelRahman Ayyash, who didn't agree with Bent Masrya‘s opinion, commented to her post:
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
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.
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.
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.