Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Bird flu found in Benin; Worries abound for voodoo practitioners

Officials in Benin have confirmed the presence of the H5N1 avian flu virus on two poultry farms.

VOA reports:

Agriculture Minister Roger Dovonou says tests from a laboratory in Italy confirmed the virus has struck one farm in the city of Cotonou and another in the town of Adjarra, outside the capital Porto Novo.

Benin reported its first suspected cases of bird flu on December 7th. Workers slaughtered several hundred chickens at the two farms as a precautionary measure, and also disinfected the sites.

H5N1 mainly affects birds but is capable of infecting humans. The virus has killed more than 200 people around the world, mostly in Asia, since 2003.

The country has banned all poultry imports and limited poultry movement around the infected areas.

The voodoo problem
The lead in the Reuters story mentions that Benin is home of the “ritual voodoo sacrifice,” which seemed an odd announcement. But, there’s a reason for the notice. On to Reuters!

Health experts have said they fear Benin's Voodoo priests could be particularly at risk because of their practice of tearing out the throats of live chickens in ritual sacrifices.

Voodoo "convents" are found across Benin and the ancient religion was also carried to the Caribbean, especially Haiti, by slaves shipped to the Americas by European captains and traders.

According to one source, 60 percent of Benin's population practice a form of this indigenous religion, generally called Vodoun. (The CIA claims less than one in five people are adherents.) Regardless, the government officially recognizes its practice and the country celebrates Voodoo Day on January 10.

Here is a link to a story on last year's Voodoo festival.

1 comment:

Dipl.-Ing. Wilfried Soddemann said...

H5N1 avian flu: Spread by drinking water into small clusters:

Human to human and contact transmission of influenza occur - but are overvalued immense. In the course of Influenza epidemics in Germany recognized clusters are rarely (9% of the cases in the season 2005).
In temperate climates the lethal H5N1 avian flu virus will be transferred to humans strong seasonal in the cold via cold drinking water, as with the birds feb/mar 2006.
Recent research must worry: So far the virus had to reach the bronchi and the lungs in order to infect humans. Now it infects the upper respiratory system (mucous membranes of the throat e.g. when drinking and mucous membranes of the nose and probably also the conjunctiva of the eyes as well as the eardrum e.g. at showering). In a few cases (Viet Nam, Thailand) stomach and intestine by the H5N1 virus were stricken but not the bronchi and the lungs. The virus might been orally taken up, e.g. when drinking contaminated water.
The performance to eliminate viruses of the drinking water processing plants in Germany regularly does not meet the requirements of the WHO and the USA/USEPA. Conventional disinfection procedures are poor, because microorganisms in the water are not in suspension, but embedded in particles. Even ground water used for drinking water is not free from viruses.
In temperate climates the strong seasonal waterborne infections like norovirus, rotavirus, salmonellae, campylobacter and - differing from the usual dogma - influenza are mainly triggered by drinking water dependent on the drinking water temperature (in Germany minimum feb/mar – maximum august). There is no evidence that influenza primary is transmitted by saliva droplets. In temperate climates the strong interdependence between influenza infections and environmental temperatures can’t be explained with the primary biotic transmission by saliva droplets from human to human with temperatures of 37.5°C. There must be an abiotic vehicle like cold drinking water. There is no other appropriate abiotic vehicle. In Germany about 98% of inhabitants have a central public water supply with older and better protected water. Therefore in Germany cold water is decisive to virulence of viruses.
In hot climates/tropics the flood-related influenza is typical after extreme weather and natural after floods. Virulence of Influenza virus depends on temperature and time. If young and fresh H5N1 contaminated water from low local wells, cisterns, tanks, rain barrels or rice fields is used for water supply water temperature for infection may be higher as in temperate climates.

Dipl.-Ing. Wilfried Soddemann
eMail soddemann-aachen@t-online.de
Epidemiological Analysis: