Kabul’s sole pig caged for flu fear
Kabul, May 7: Afghanistan’s only known pig has been locked in a room, away from visitors to Kabul zoo where it normally grazes beside deer and goats, because people are worried it could infect them with the virus popularly known as swine flu. The pig is a curiosity in the Muslim country, where pork and pig products are illegal because they are considered irreligious, and has been in quarantine since Sunday after visitors expressed alarm it could spread the new flu strain.
“For now the pig is under quarantine, we built it a room because of swine influenza,” said Aziz Gul Saqib, director of Kabul Zoo. “We’ve done this because people are worried about getting the flu.”
Worldwide, more than 1,000 people have been infected with the virus, according to the World Health Organisation, which also says 26 people have so far died from the strain. All but one of the deaths was in Mexico, the epicentre of the outbreak. There are no pig farms in Afghanistan and no direct civilian flights between Kabul and Mexico.
“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 to the zoo from China, which itself quarantined some 70 Mexicans, 26 Canadians and four Americans in the past week, but later released them.
Some visitors were not concerned about the fate of the pig and said locking it away was probably for the best.
“Influenza is quite contagious and if it passes between people and animals then there’s no need for the pig to be here,” said zoo visitor Farzana.