Voodoo and Bird Flu

Now that the H5N1 virus (aka “Bird Flu”) has reached Africa, government and health officials are worried that Voodoo practitioners in Africa will be hit especially hard by the virus. The coastal nation of Nigeria discovered cases of bird flu last week and has cremated over 45,000 chickens already in an attempt to contain the virus. Bird flu is a huge issue in Africa where many make a living raising chickens, and some fear that the virus has already spread beyond governmental control.

Vodun practitioners in Benin

The country of Benin which neighbors Nigeria is currently putting together an action plan to alert leaders of Voodoo “convents” to the dangers involved. Chickens are a favorite sacrificial animal in Voodoo rites and the risk of exposure to infected chicken blood through touch or through ingestion is very high. A reported 60 percent of Benin’s 7 million citizens are Voodoo practitioners and the worries of a national pandemic sparked by Voodoo rites is forefront on the minds of government officials. The government on the non-religious front has also placed a temporary ban on the distribution and transit of poultry, and has stepped up their border patrol.

Jason Pitzl-Waters