Source: http://www.google.com/hostednews/afp..._tiWe-iHSm8XXg

Egypt MPs seek 'immediate death' for nation's pigs

CAIRO (AFP) Egypt's lower house of parliament called on Tuesday for the nation's 250,000 pigs to be killed immediately because of fears over the spread of swine flu, state news agency MENA reported.

"The People's Assembly urged the government to immediately start culling pigs and not to relocate pig-breeding farms away from residential areas for fear of the spread of swine flu," MENA said.

Egypt's 80-million population consists mainly of Muslims, whose religion forbids them from eating pork, as well as an estimated six to 10 percent Christian Copts who may eat pig meat.

Egypt's pigs are mainly raised on the streets of Cairo districts inhabited by Christian rubbish collectors and recyclers. Egyptian authorities have called repeatedly for the pigs to be relocated to a site south of Cairo.

The swine flu outbreak that began in Mexico has raised fears of a global pandemic after suspected and confirmed cases were detected in parts of Europe, the United States and New Zealand.

An Israeli man who recently returned from Mexico was on Tuesday confirmed to have contracted the potentially deadly swine flu, the only confirmed case in the Middle East.

Saber Abdel Aziz Galal, from Egypt's agriculture ministry, said that the authorities had called as early as 2006, when bird flu arrived in Egypt, for pigs to be kept separate from birds as well as humans.

"The only contact should be with the worker caring for them (pigs), not as in the current situation where there are no precautionary measures," Galal told AFP.

"Pigs congregate with humans in these places, it is a very strange environment. They are not kept in farms," he said, adding that his ministry would continue to "monitor and examine" the nation's pigs.

MENA also reported that a pig abattoir in the Mediterranean city of Alexandria had already been shut down "as part of precautionary measures" against swine flu.