Bird Flu Risk Particularly Strong in Sub-Saharan Africa

The test results are not back yet, but local officials are pretty sure it's avian flu. Four hundred chickens died in the village. The local tribal chief ordered all the birds rounded up, and the villagers burned them and buried the bodies.

So far, the villagers seem to be healthy -- no one has shown symptoms of the disease.

But Safia Musa lost 50 birds. Asked what that loss means for her and her family, she put on a brave face and smiled brightly.

"It means if anyone drops something on the ground, the birds are not there to pick it up anymore," she joked.

The government has not offered Musa compensation for her loss. Niger is already so deeply in debt, it can scarcely afford to do so.

The people of Niger approach the possibility of bird flu with an air of resignation. At the bustling market in Niger's capital, Niamey, where bird flu hasn't reached yet, a group of young poultry salesmen tried in vain to interest people in their wares.

No one was buying, though. "All we can do is pray," they said.

Then they did just that. A group of them turned their eyes to God, praying that he would spare them.

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