CAIRO: Egypt reported a new human case of the H5N1 strain of avian influenza Wednesday, bringing to 13 the total number of Egyptians who have been infected by the deadly virus. The health ministry said late Tuesday that the new case was detected in a 27-year-old woman who was infected by poultry from her domestic rearing in the Nile Delta governorate of Menufiya.
The woman showed symptoms of the illness when she returned to her home in a Cairo suburb. The tests carried out by the health ministry have confirmed that it was the H5N1 virus, Abdel Sabur Shahin said, adding that the woman had been hospitalized and was in stable condition. Out of the 12 other human cases that have been reported in Egyptians since mid-March, four were fatal and eight people recovered after being treated with Tamiflu. A total of 205 people worldwide are confirmed by the World Health Organization (WHO) to have been infected, out of which 113 died. Experts say many cases go unreported. According to Egypt s Supreme Committee to Combat Bird Flu, 20 out of the country s 26 governorates have been affected by the bird flu epidemic. Egypt, the most populous country in the Arab world, is on a major route for migratory birds and is the hardest-hit non-Asian country since the bird flu epidemic broke out in 2003.
Previously, a WHO organization official had said that Egypt needs to raise public awareness of how to avoid bird flu.
There was no sign of human-to-human transmission in Egypt, said Hassan Al-Bushra, WHO regional adviser for communicable diseases surveillance.
You need to do more health education. Most of the cases are backyard farms and people who are not really abiding by the instructions of the Ministry of Health, Bushra said.
Some, for example, had moved their poultry indoors after being told to dispose of the birds, he said. Bird flu, which has spread from Asia to the Middle East, Africa and Europe, remains essentially an animal disease but can infect people who come into contact with sick poultry.
The virus was first reported among birds in Egypt in February. The first human infection appeared in mid-March. A U.S. military laboratory in Egypt has confirmed that four people have caught the virus, with the newest infection reported yesterday.
These cases were expected. I expect them to disappear soon because (the government) now have even more strict measures in place, Bushra said. The most important thing is that these cases are not related. It s not human-to-human transmission and all of them were in close contact with poultry, he added.
Generally the government is doing a good job. Now they have proper supervision, people in every province, Bush added. Agencies