Iraq to cull wild boars in Baghdad Zoo to halt flu
BAGHDAD May 1 (Reuters) - Iraq will kill three wild boars in Baghdad Zoo to ward off the new flu sweeping the globe, officials said, despite experts' advice that people are spreading the virus, not pigs.
Dr. Ihsan Jafar, who heads Iraq's committee on what the World Health Organisation calls influenza A (H1N1) but is widely known as swine flu, said on Friday that a request was sent to Baghdad municipality to cull the hogs as soon as possible.
The government of northern Iraq's largely autonomous Kurdistan region said medical teams were checking travellers at airports, especially foreigners coming from countries affected.
"It is also possible the disease could be spread by eating pork, so we banned hunting wild boars," regional health minister Abdul Rahman Osman said. Most Iraqis are Muslim and do not eat pork, but a Christian minority does.
Iraq has registered no cases of the flu, which global health experts say derives from a swine influenza but has not been found in pigs.
In an effort to halt misinformation linking the virus to pigs, the World Health Organisation (WHO) renamed it Influenza A on Thursday. It has consistently said the disease cannot be caught from eating pork if it is prepared properly.
Still, Egypt on Thursday started seizing and slaughtering herds of pigs as precaution against the flu in a campaign the United Nations called a "real mistake".
"We know this virus is spreading by human to human transmission but we can't say 'don't take these secondary measures', which any country in the world would take," Jafar said, defending the planned boar slaughter. (Reporting by Aseel Kami; Writing by Tim Cocks, edited by Richard Meares)
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