Mar 20, 2006 (CIDRAP News) – Egyptian authorities have reported that a 30-year-old Egyptian woman died of H5N1 avian influenza and a young man is recovering from the same infection, signaling what may be the first known human cases in Africa.
Both patients were exposed to sick poultry, and samples from both tested positive at a US Navy laboratory in Cairo, according to reports from Agence France-Presse (AFP).
The woman fell ill in early March after close contact with sick chickens, ducks, and a turkey in her household flock, the World Health Organization (WHO) said today, citing information from the Egyptian government. She was hospitalized Mar 16 and died Mar 17.
She was tested by the US Naval Medical Research Unit (NAMRU-3) in Cairo, the WHO said. Samples were being sent to a WHO collaborating lab outside Egypt for confirmatory testing, the statement said.
An AFP report yesterday said the woman, named Amal Mohammed Ismail, was from Nawa village just north of Cairo and had kept poultry despite a ban on poultry raising since avian flu first broke out in Egypt in February.
The woman's village has been sealed off, and health officials were taking samples from people who might have had contact with her or her birds, AFP reported.
The sick man was identified in a Mar 19 AFP report as Mohammed Bahaa Abdel Moneim, 28, who has a chicken farm north of Cairo where a number of birds died a week ago. The report cited Health Minister Hatem al-Gabali as the information source.
The US Navy lab detected the H5N1 virus in samples from both patients, according to an AFP report today. It said samples from both were being sent to London for further tests.
An Egyptian health official named Sayyid al-Abbasi said the man's condition improved after he was treated with oseltamivir (Tamiflu), according to an IRIN News (United Nations Integrated Regional Information Networks) report today.
"He's well now, though he's still under surveillance," al-Abbasi was quoted as saying.
Egypt confirmed its first H5N1 outbreak in poultry on Feb 17, and the virus has since turned up in 18 of the country's 26 governorates, the WHO said. Elsewhere in Africa, the virus has infected birds in Nigeria, Niger, and Cameroon this year, but no human cases have been reported in those countries.
In other developments, four children in Serbia have been hospitalized with suspected avian flu symptoms, according to an AFP report today. The Serbian health ministry said the children were placed in isolation, while another 24 people were being monitored. Serbia first detected H5N1 avian flu in a swan found dead earlier this month.
Mar 20 WHO statement on case in Egypt