Monday, February 20, 2006

Wedding party in Iraq

The Iraqi Ministry of Health now is testing 25 people (12 in the north and 13 in the south) as suspected cases of bird flu.
"We're testing blood samples from 25 locals from the Missan and Sulaimaniyah governorates because they've been showing symptoms very similar to those of bird flu," said Ibtissam Azize, a spokesman for the bird flu programme at the health ministry.

The blood samples are being analysed in local government laboratories and results are expected before 21 February. Ten samples have also been sent for simultaneous testing to a World Health Organisation (WHO) laboratory in Cairo, while the remaining 15 are to be transported by the end of the week. (Reuters Alertnet)
Two bird flu deaths in the Kurdish north have been confirmed by WHO and 14 more have been confirmed negative by the reference lab in Cairo. A half million chickens and ducks have been slaughtered in an effort to stem the infestation, although this seems fruitless. The government is promising to compensate the farmers for their losses. With what? The government is broke, and worse, powerless (literally and figuratively).
Nearly 500 people are now working on the campaign against bird flu in Iraq, including doctors in hospitals where suspected cases are being treated, according to Ministry of Health officials. "We were not expecting a crisis like this one, and we'll have to dislocate budgets from other sectors for the prevention campaigns because it's an emergency situation," Azize explained.
Not expecting something like this? They should have been. Disease is War's constant and loving companion. And there are 160,000 foreign occupiers to help them celebrate their betrothal.