Photo in the News: Bird Flu Dance Craze Sweeps Ivory Coast

Ivoirians trying the bird flu dance
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June 2, 2006—This isn't your grandfather's Funky Chicken.

A local deejay is attempting to lighten the mood after the arrival of the deadly H5N1 strain of avian influenza in Côte d'Ivoire (Ivory Coast) in early May. Twenty-one-year-old DJ Lewis has invented a wacky bird flu dance that is sweeping nightclubs in the West African country's major city of Abidjan (Ivory Coast map).

The infectious craze has hundreds of people shaking, flapping their arms, and clucking on the dance floor—an imitation of chickens' death throes when they are culled to stop the virus from spreading.

(Download and listen to the latest Ivory Coast music.)

"I created the dance to bring happiness to the hearts of Africans and to chase away fear—the fear of eating chicken," Lewis told the BBC.

"If we kill all our chickens and poultry, our cousins in the village will become poor. So I created the bird flu dance to put joy back into our hearts."

Ivory Coast health experts have been encouraging people to continue eating chicken, saying well-cooked poultry poses little risk of transmitting bird flu.

—Victoria Gilman

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