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Another death highlights avian flu threat

Caged chickens for purchase in a poultry shop, Cairo, Egypt, 16 February 2007. Egypt is a major route for migratory birds and is one of the countries worst hit by the bird flu virus outside Asia.
(Victoria Hazou/IRIN)

Another human victim of bird flu - the 16th in Egypt - has been registered in the country, underlining the fact that the deadly H5N1 strain of avian flu, which was first detected in Egypt in February 2006, has not disappeared.

The Ministry of Health said on 26 December that a 25-year-old woman had died the previous day in a village near Beni Souef, about 100km south of Cairo. The woman, who had handled infected birds at home, was admitted to hospital on 21 December suffering from pneumonia and respiratory problems.

This was the 39th case of human bird flu infection reported since the H5N1 virus was first detected in the country. It was the first human death from bird flu since June 2007, when a 10-year-old girl died. In Egypt, most victims of avian flu have been women and children because of their role in raising domestic fowl.

Nakhla Amany, regional planning assistant for avian flu in the Cairo office of the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), told IRIN that in this specific case the Egyptian health authorities had taken the right measures. “They immediately took the victim to hospital once they detected the symptoms of avian flu and they conducted the right tests.”

She regretted, however, the delay by the victim’s family in seeking medical help. The family is being tested to see if anybody else has been infected.

Egypt has taken a number of stringent measures to combat the spread of the avian flu virus, including banning the raising of birds in towns and their transportation between provinces, and controlling where they are raised and sold.

A programme to raise awareness of the risks posed by bird flu has been in place since February 2006, and a major campaign was launched in early 2007 to vaccinate domestic birds - the most common route by which transmission of avian flu from birds to humans takes place.


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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