Kaddee’s Cairo Chronicles

May 2, 2009

Mafeesh Pork!

Filed under: How it works,What the...? — Kaddee @ 9:46 am

In an unprecedented (and almost definitely ill-advised) move, the Egyptian government decided that the way to prevent swine flu in the country was to kill all the pigs.  I am simultaneously stunned and not about this knee-jerk over-reaction.

These actions demonstrate a distinct lack of:

  1. Understanding of the virus and its epidemiology
    1. There have been NO CASES of swine flu in Egypt.  Unlike bird flu, this one is not present in the country.  (Some say, it is  not here YET!!  So let’s kill all the pigs before it gets here!)
    2. This flu is NOT the flu that pigs get!  It is a chimera of human, pig and bird.  It is similar to pig flu, but IS NOT THE SAME.

    Michael Shaw, the CDC’s associate director for laboratory science states, “Everybody’s calling it swine flu, but the better term is swine-like. It’s like viruses we have seen in pigs — it’s not something we know was in pigs. It doesn’t really have any close relative.”

  2. Understanding of the longer term effects of eradicating the pig population in Egypt
    1. Pigs here are the main organic waste recyclers.  Pigs are kept by the zabaleen (garbage collectors) and are fed the organic wastes – kitchen scraps, fruit rinds and pits etc.
      1. For those who are wondering – most of the zabaleen are Christian, and therefore do not abide by the Islamic ban on pigs and pork.  They raise the pigs on the organic wastes, and then sell the pork products to restaurants etc.  Many Coptic-run restaurants in Cairo serve pork.
    2. Eradication of the pig means that the disposal of garbage will also be decreased or eliminated.  Obviously, the health risks of growing piles of garbage have not been taken into account.  (Remember the garbage strike in Naples about a year ago??)
    3. The sale of pork is also a mainstay of the zabaleen economy.  Interestingly, since the slaughter of the pigs began on Wednesday (April 29), the SALE of pork products in the usual places has ALSO been eliminated.  A critical thinking individual would wonder WHY?????  The virus cannot be passed via eating pork products.

We encountered this unfortunate reality yesterday at Maison Thomas – our 2nd favorite pizza place (1st favorite for delivery).  I attempted to order the Croque Monsieur for lunch yesterday and was told, “No ham – international bans.”  Whatever that means.

The conspiracy theorists in Egypt are saying that this is the working of the Brotherhood to eliminate all the pigs in Egypt, and insure that pigs will never be raised in the country again.  Others are saying that this is a Zionist plot and that the flu has been engineered.

I don’t think it is all that sinister.  I think it is the two most commonly mixed ingredients of bad decision making: ignorance and fear.

For me, it simply means no more pork products until we leave Egypt.  <sigh>


  1. No more _indigenous_ pork products. We still have precious Salumi salami in the larder…

    Comment by jack — May 2, 2009 @ 9:56 am

  2. Pepperoni pizza from the Deli in Maadi yesterday seemed to be pork pepperoni, like they usually have.

    Comment by ms four — May 2, 2009 @ 11:16 am

  3. Dr. Kaddee, there’s something else as well… Are you aware of HOW the pigs were slaughtered?? Despite the teachings of Islam?? Despite humanity?? I posted the most horrible video of the killings on my facebook and you can find in on youtube if you search for pig slaughtering in Egypt… Absolutely shocking!

    Comment by Maha — June 15, 2009 @ 1:41 pm

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