Feb 16, 2007 (CIDRAP News) – The World Health Organization (WHO) today confirmed a fatal H5N1 avian influenza case in a 37-year-old woman in Egypt, as the country’s health ministry announced that a 5-year-old boy had tested positive for the virus.
Egyptian officials announced the case in the woman, from Fayyoum governorate about 60 miles south of Cairo, 2 days ago. The WHO, in a statement yesterday confirming her illness as the country’s 21st case, said she was hospitalized Feb 12 and had helped slaughter and defeather sick birds a week before she became ill. She is the 13th Egyptian to die of the virus and the third in 2007.
Meanwhile, Egypt’s health ministry said the boy, from Sharqiya governorate, about 60 miles northeast of Cairo, tested positive for H5N1 after experiencing a high fever 2 days ago, Reuters reported today. The ministry said he was in stable condition and undergoing treatment.
WHO confirmation of the boy's case would increase the agency's case count for Egypt to 22.
John Jabbour, a WHO representative in Cairo, told Reuters that a delay in reporting symptoms is contributing to a high fatality rate in Egypt. He said many people keep birds at their homes but hesitate to disclose that to health officials because they fear sanctions.
In other avian flu news, agriculture officials in Laos on Feb 13 reported two H5N1 outbreaks in poultry, according to a report today in the Vientiane Times. The outbreaks reportedly occurred in two Vientiane prefecture villages, one on a duck farm in Phonpapao-thong and one among backyard ducks in Dongsavath.
Health officials held an emergency meeting yesterday to discuss how to handle the outbreak, the Times reported. They have already restricted poultry movement in the affected areas and surveyed 83,000 people in 50 villages near the area for suspicious symptoms, the Times report said. Authorities also plan to cull ducks at the two outbreak locations.
The last poultry outbreak in Laos occurred in July 2006, when the H5N1 virus killed 2,500 chickens on a farm just south of Vientiane near the Thai border. It was the first major H5N1 outbreak in the country since 2004. No human cases or deaths have been reported.
Officials in Turkey, in a report submitted to the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE) 3 days ago, announced H5N1 outbreaks in two more villages, one in Batman province, where the first outbreak of the 2007 season was reported recently, and one in Diyarbakir province. All are in southeast Turkey, about 460 miles from Ankara.
Turkish officials suspect that the disease has spread to poultry in two more villages in Diyarbakir but are awaiting test results, Reuters reported today. The two villages were quarantined, and 340 birds were destroyed, the report said. There have been no WHO-confirmed human cases in Turkey in 2007.
Nov 22, 2006, FAO avian flu bulletin with chart of H5N1 outbreaks by country
OIE reports on Turkish outbreak