Bird flu awareness and reporting measures in Egypt are improving, and patient recovery rates are rising, health specialists say, because of better planning and co-operation between international bodies and the Egyptian government in tackling the virus.
This is despite the fact that 29 people in Egypt have been infected by the virus since spring 2006, 13 of whom died.
The latest cases of human infection of H5N1, the avian influenza virus, were reported on Monday when a six-year-old girl from Qena in the Nile Valley, and a five-year-old boy from Minya province, were tested positive for the virus and admitted to hospital.
Dr Sayyid Abassi, spokesman for the Egyptian Ministry of Health, told IRIN on Wednesday that the condition of the two boys was improving. “They are better now than they were on Monday. In these cases, surveillance and early detection gives real results,” he said.
A three-year-old girl from the southern city of Aswan, who tested positive for bird flu last week, is now recovering in hospital, and officials say she is no longer in danger.
Dr Hassan el-Bushra, of the World Health Organization’s regional office in Cairo, said that bird flu cases were being reported at an earlier stage now in Egypt, giving doctors the opportunity to diagnose and treat patients more effectively.
Last month, the Egyptian government, led by the Supreme Committee for Avian Influenza, began a US $450 million campaign to vaccinate poultry against the disease.
In addition, new laws are currently in passage through parliament that will limit the transport of poultry around the country in an effort to curb the spread of the disease among birds.
Egypt’s densely populated Nile valley has seen the highest concentration of avian influenza cases outside Asia.
All of the recent patients contracted the disease through contact with sick birds, officials at the Ministry of Health said.
Since the first detection of H5N1 in humans in Egypt in February 2006, a disproportionate number of patients have been women and young children, who are the most likely to come into contact with ‘backyard birds’ – the most common transmission route from animals to humans.
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