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Bird flu cases hit 32

[Turkey] Buyuk Sismanlar poultry farm in Ankara. [Date picture taken: 01/18/2006]
Turkish poultry farmers are planning to cull millions of chickens following a sharp drop in demand (Alimbek Tashtankulov/IRIN)

The number of people to test positive for the bird flu virus in Egypt has risen to 32, health officials confirmed on Monday.

The figure rose after a four-year-old girl from Qaloubiya governorate in Egypt’s Nile Delta tested positive for H5N1, the avian flu virus. The case, confirmed on Monday, is the third such incidence over the past four days.

On Thursday, Egypt’s Ministry of Health and Population said that a four-year-old boy from Qena in the Nile Valley and a seven-year-old boy from Sohag, 470 km south of Cairo, had been admitted to hospitals.

All of the patients were in a stable and improving condition, Dr. Amr Kandeel, director of the Communicable Disease Control Department at the health ministry, said.

“We have now had 32 cases in Egypt. Thirteen people have died, 15 have been cured. The four cases still in hospital are getting better,” he added.

The first case of human bird flu in Egypt was registered in March 2006. The country accounts for the largest number avian flu cases infecting humans outside Asia, where the majority of cases have been reported.

The last patient to die from the deadly H5N1 strain of the virus in Egypt was a teenage girl in the Fayyoum region on 2 February.

Incidences of avian flu in humans are typically treated in Egypt with the antiviral drug Tamiflu. Health officials stress that the treatment’s success is highest if the patient reports the illness as soon as symptoms emerge.

Egypt launched a major campaign to vaccinate ‘backyard birds’ – the most common route of transmission of avian flu from animals to humans – earlier this year, along with increased efforts to make the public aware of the risks of keeping poultry in the homes. Although cases continue to be reported, the campaign appears to be limiting fatalities.

“Our cure rate is improving. All of these [recent] cases came to hospital within 48 hours [of noticing symptoms], so we can say that public awareness is improving,” said Kandeel.

Health officials remain vigilant for signs that the virus could be transmitted between humans, sparking a pandemic that could kill millions.

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This article was produced by IRIN News while it was part of the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs. Please send queries on copyright or liability to the UN. For more information: https://shop.un.org/rights-permissions

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