Young men standing in pools of gore beheaded chickens in Nigeria's biggest city on Thursday as marketgoers expressed fears of more bird-flu infections after the first human death, although no health panic was apparent.
Officials reported the first human fatality from bird flu in Africa's most-populous nation on Tuesday and the news filled newspapers and radio waves a day later, but Nigerians who are focused on escaping poverty showed only a few frayed nerves.
"Here, our relations with chickens are cordial. We keep them in cages in the backyard, sometimes up to 20 of them," said Philip Selli, a 32-year old business man in one of Lagos' main chicken markets.
"I'm worried about bird flu. I'm only going to eat the chickens in good health, not the slow-walking ones, the ones with fluid coming from their noses," he said.
Selli, like others, said the first bird-flu fatality was unlikely to interrupt business in a city of 14 million people where most residents live in crowded slums, often together with poultry that is an important food source.
Experts say ingesting well-cooked chicken poses no health risk, but that close contact with sick birds like plucking and cleaning chickens can transmit the disease.
There was no sign that the Jan. 17 death of the 22-year old student in Lagos had set off any kind of health panic. Health officials were investigating other possible cases.
Under a highway overpass, chicken vendors carrying upside-down birds bound by their feet walked through the market situated .
Shirtless young men swinging machetes plucked and beheaded the birds, standing in blood and pouring buckets of it down an embankment into a trash-clogged brook where white pilot birds dipped their beaks, reports AP.
The chicken vendors said they would continue to sell their product, each of which sells for about US$7 far more than the average wage for Nigerian workers.
An outbreak of H5N1 bird flu hit Nigeria last year, but no human infections had been reported until Wednesday. Until the Nigerian report, Egypt and Djibouti were the only African countries that had confirmed infections among people. Eleven people have died in Egypt.
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