Sudanese clerics clear sacrifice of sick animals

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KHARTOUM, Nov 18 (Reuters) Clerics have given Sudanese Muslims the all-clear to sacrifice animals infected by a Rift Valley Fever outbreak in coming festivities, local media reported today.

The deadly disease has so far killed 96 people in Sudan and threatens to devastate the country's huge livestock industry.

Religious scholars have now ruled that animals suspected of having the disease will still be acceptable sacrifices for the major Muslim festival of Eid ul-Adha, daily newspaper Akhir Lahzah reported.

The Board of Sudanese Religious Scholars ruled that Muslims were only banned from sacrificing animals with a disease mentioned in the Hadith, a collection of the sayings of the Prophet, the paper said.

Sudan's Ministry of Animal Resources has claimed there is no sign of Rift Valley Fever among livestock, despite the confirmed human cases. But the World Health Organisation last week said Sudan had reported cases of the disease in animals in the country's White Nile State.

Rift Valley Fever can kill as many as half the people who contract it, and has no effective human vaccine. It spreads to humans from infected livestock via contaminated blood or mosquitoes.

Eid ul-Adha, which celebrates Abraham's willingness to sacrifice his son, falls this year on Dec 20.

REUTERS SZ RK1436

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