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Sunday 24th June 2018

Bird flu cases rise in Egypt

3rd April 2009

In Egypt, the number of bird flu cases has risen yet again to 61, making six new human infections over the past month.


Egypt is the most populous Arab country and the one hit hardest by bird flu outside Asia.

A two-year-old boy from the province of Bohaira, in the north, is believed to have become infected after coming into contact with poultry carrying the disease.

The boy was taken to hospital earlier this week after coming down with a fever during a family visit, where he was treated with the drug Tamiflu.

Even though it is recommended by experts, health authorities in Egypt do not compensate farmers for birds that need to be culled.

In the last six years, at least 410 people have contracted the H5N1 avian influenza virus.

The infections have occurred in 15 countries and caused 254 human deaths, and entailed the culling of some 300 million birds in 61 countries.

The human dead include 23 Egyptians, contact with domestic birds carrying the virus being the most common infection route.

In Egypt, where approximately 5 million households derive their main source of food and income from domestic poultry, comparatively few people have been infected.

This recent case comes just over one week after a two-year-old girl in the province of Qena was found to have contracted the virus.

One day after the girl's symptoms began, she was moved to a hospital specialising in treating the disease and given the drug oseltamivir. Her condition eventually stabilised.

Cases in Egypt have been sporadic, and just over one third have been fatal.

However, experts fear that the H5N1 virus could become transmissible from one human to another, bringing devastating consequences worldwide.

The virus responsible for the Spanish flu pandemic, also known as the 1918 flu pandemic, which killed somewhere between 20 and 50 million people worldwide, was less deadly than a potentially mutated H5N1 bird flu virus.

Billions of dollars are currently being spent by governments in preparation for a potential outbreak, and at least 17 governments and 12 companies are developing bird flu vaccines.

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