The 27th human case of avian influenza has been detected in Egypt, health officials say, despite recent government efforts to curtail the problem.
Sayyid al-Abbasi, a spokesman for the Ministry of Health, told IRIN on Monday that the latest case was a three-year-old girl from Aswan, southern Egypt. She tested positive for the H5N1 subset of the virus on Sunday.
“She was hospitalised on Thursday [22 March] and was given tamiflu. Her situation is stable. Other family members are currently undergoing tests to check if they are infected or not,” al-Abbasi said.
Al-Abbasi went on to say that the victim had contracted the virus as a result of direct contact with infected poultry. “She is the third case in Aswan. The first two were children but from different areas of the governorate,” he said, adding that patients usually need to stay in hospital for four to five days before their condition becomes stable.
The ministry is still intensifying its awareness campaigns to curtail the incidences of bird flu infection in the country.
In a related development, the parliamentary legal committee that has been drafting a law that will prohibit the movement of poultry from one governorate to another in a bid to stop the disease from spreading has yet to finalise its work.
The proposed law, which is expected to be discussed in parliament in the coming weeks, will restrict the trade of live poultry and impose fines on those who violate it by moving birds from one urban centre to another. Authorities say they are only focusing on urban areas because they have found it difficult to convince people living in rural areas to stop breeding birds at home.
“The law will not be applied in rural villages. Police departments will be responsible for tracking the violators in urban areas,” said Dr Nasr al-Sayyed, First Under-secretary for the Preventive Sector in the Ministry of Health.
The densely populated Nile Valley, where Aswan lies, has seen the worst concentration of the H5N1 strain of avian influenza cases outside Asia.
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