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Afghanistan quarantines its only pig

Visitors to the Kabul Zoo had expressed concern that they might be infected with swine flu.

May 07, 2009|Reuters

KABUL, AFGHANISTAN — Afghanistan's only known pig has been locked in a room, away from visitors to the zoo where it normally grazes beside deer and goats, because people are worried it could infect them with swine flu.

The pig is a curiosity in Muslim Afghanistan, where pork and pig products are illegal because they are considered irreligious. It has been in quarantine since Sunday after visitors expressed alarm that it could spread the new flu strain, though health officials worldwide say the H1N1 virus' link to pigs is tenuous at best.

"For now the pig is under quarantine. We built it a room because of swine influenza," said Aziz Gul Saqib, director of the Kabul Zoo. "We've done this because people are worried about getting the flu."

There are no pig farms in Afghanistan and no direct civilian flights between Kabul and Mexico, where most of the flu cases have occurred.

"We understand that, but most people don't have enough knowledge. When they see the pig in the cage, they get worried and think that they could get ill," Saqib said.

The pig was a gift from China, which recently quarantined about 70 Mexicans, 26 Canadians and four Americans before releasing them.

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