Avian flu cases reported in Cambodia, Egypt

April 5, 2006 (CIDRAP News) – Avian flu has resurfaced in two countries, killing a 12-year-old boy in Cambodia and sickening a little girl in Egypt, according to news services.

The Cambodian boy died last night, said Michael O'Leary, World Health Organization (WHO) representative in Phnom Penh, who was quoted in a Reuters report today. The boy was from the southeastern province of Prey Veng, adjoining Vietnam.

A Cambodian health official said a sample from the boy tested positive for H5N1 avian flu at the Pasteur Institute in Phnom Penh, according to an Agence France-Presse (AFP) report today. The official said the boy had eaten sick chickens before he fell ill.

Although fewer human H5N1 infections have been diagnosed in Cambodia than in China, Vietnam, or Thailand, all six known Cambodian victims have died, according to the WHO.

In addition, a 16-month-old girl in southern Egypt has contracted H5N1, according to a Reuters story today that quotes the Egyptian health and population minister, Hatem el-Gabali. Hers is the ninth case of avian flu in Egypt, el-Gabali said, although the WHO to date has confirmed only four cases. (Samples in the other cases are still being tested.)

The girl was hospitalized Apr 2 and was said to be in stable condition, according to an AFP report today. Officials said her family raises poultry at home.

Meanwhile, the H5N1 virus continues to spread among wild birds and domestic poultry, causing fear and economic woes.

Authorities have confirmed the first instance of an H5 virus spreading to domestic poultry in Germany, in the eastern state of Saxony.

Preliminary tests at a farm near Leipzig with more than 14,000 turkeys and geese showed the H5 virus, Reuters reported today. The neuraminidase subtype has not yet been determined, authorities told the news service, but the flock will be culled.

Fourteen more villages in India's western state of Maharashtra have avian flu in poultry, Reuters reported today. The neuraminidase hasn't been typed yet, but authorities suspect they'll receive confirmation that it is an H5N1 virus, the story said.

In addition, another 250,000 birds will be killed in the Gaza Strip as officials try to stop the spread of the virus there, according to Reuters.

Chicken is the main source of animal protein for Gazans, said Ambrogio Manenti of the WHO office for the Palestinian territories, the story noted. Outbreaks have occurred on five Gazan farms to date, and about 250,000 birds, or 10% of all the flocks in Gaza, have been culled, the story said.

A concern for human health in Gaza is the lack of oseltamivir (Tamiflu), the drug most widely used to prevent or treat H5N1 infection. Manenti told Reuters the Palestinian Authority does not have enough Tamiflu. Although Israeli officials are providing gear and 300 doses of the antiviral drug, Manenti said Gaza needs at least 1,000 doses.

The election of a Hamas-led government has further cooled relations between Palestine and several countries, prompting some nations to administer aid through third parties, such as United Nations agencies, the story said.

In Africa, Niger has culled another 26,000 birds in 47 villages in the Magaria district, the Angola Press Agency reported today. Culling is expected to last a week, and owners will be compensated, the story said.

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