CAIRO, (Reuters) – The Egyptian government on Saturday advised people who breed poultry at home to get rid of them to prevent the spread of bird flu, which has been diagonosed in seven chickens in Egypt.
Prime Minister Ahmed Nazif said in a statement: “The time has come to get rid of the idea of breeding chickens on the roofs of houses, especially under current circumstances.”
“The world is moving towards big farms because they can be controlled under veterinary supervision, so if any problems arise, intervening to deal with them is much easier,” he added.
The seven sick or dead chickens were found in homes, not on large farms. Many Egyptians in cities keep chickens or pigeons on the roof for their own consumption or as a source of supplementary income.
Nazif said the government would compensate the owners of any sick or dead birds. But it is safe to slaughter and eat domestic fowl which do not have the disease, he added.
The Egyptian Health Ministry said on Friday it had carried out tests on people living near the seven diseased chickens but no human cases were found.
Egypt has tested 37,000 samples from birds since the virus started spreading around the world but Thursday’s were the first positive results, it said.
Egypt has banned the import of live birds and has tightened quarantine controls to keep out bird flu. It also cancelled the annual bird hunting season to minimise contacts between people and migrant birds.
H5N1 influenza remains mainly a disease of poultry, and has killed or forced the culling of more than 200 million birds across Asia, parts of the Middle East, Europe and Africa.
But it has also infected 169 people, killing at least 91, and is steadily mutating. If it acquires the ability to pass easily from person to person, it could cause a pandemic that might kill millions.