Pig Farms Blamed for Typhus in Cypriot Village

CYPRUS - Residents of Meniko village, west of Nicosia are reporting an increase in incidents of typhus, which they say, is being caused by surrounding pig farms.
calendar icon 19 April 2010
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Typhus is transmitted by the bites of fleas, mites or ticks generally from rats, according to Cyprus Mail.

The House Environment Committee yesterday heard that around 70 per cent of the island’s pig farms are located west of Nicosia, which directly affects the communities of Meniko, Akaki, Orounda and Paleometocho.

Many of these farms don’t live up to EU specifications when it comes to handling their waste, resulting in much of it being dumped in the Meniko River, the Committee heard. Apart from the dire environmental effects, this is having a serious effect residents.

Meniko community leader Andreas Kalogirou said the number of villagers reporting they suffered from typhus was constantly rising, though he was unsure of exact figures.

“I don’t know exactly how many cases of typhus there are, but there are many,” said Mr Kalogirou. “The situation in Meniko is especially tragic”, he added. “There are seven pig farms within the community and many others around the village, as well as Akaki, Paleometocho and Orounda – and much of the farms’ waste is dumped outside our village. The smell is awful and there are flies everywhere. Imagine sitting down to eat your lunch and being faced with tens of fly traps with hundreds of flies stuck to them.”

“To do any kind of work, Meniko residents need to wear surgical gloves as they are scared of contracting typhus,” he added.

Mr Kalogirou presented the Committee with documents he found in his office, which had two holes and six rat droppings on them.

Any efforts made on his part to seek help from the state’s relevant services have hit a brick wall, said Kalogirou. But he was at least pleased to hear yesterday that the government had offered farmers the chance to update their farms in compliance with European laws, regarding their waste management – otherwise the farm owners will be prosecuted.

Mr Kalogirou was also satisfied with the fact that an environmental survey had been ordered to see whether the area can handle such a large amount of farms – and no further farming licenses will be issued until this has been carried out.

“We will tolerate these farms, but as long as the state’s services ensure that they are operating correctly,” he said.

During the parliamentary session, Mr Kalogirou came into conflict with the head of the Pig Farmers’ Association, George Neophytou – a row that continued outside.

Mr Neophytou later told reporters, “I am saddened because from what the Meniko community leader said, we are at his side for any help and support to resolve these problems with dialogue and not with conflicts.”

Asked to comment on the typhus claims, he said this had not yet been confirmed and attributed it to a personal attack by Mr Kalogirou. “But if it is the case, we need to look into this matter seriously.”

Environment Committee Chairman Andreas Fakontis of AKEL said the area’s residents had reached their limits. “Community leaders have said there was an increase in typhus cases as a result of this vast number of farms, as well as a rodent problem and infections in the underground water, which has forced the residents to live in seriously difficult conditions,” said Mr Fakontis. “So it has been decided that an environmental survey costing €55,000, paid by the Interior Ministry, will be carried out. Until then, no more licences will be issued for new farms.”

Furthermore, he added, farms that don’t comply with the relevant law for managing waste will be taken to court. “There is a European directive that says these units should be modernised to manage their waste better.”

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