Dec 31, 2007 (CIDRAP News) – Egyptian officials announced two new deaths from H5N1 avian influenza in women from the Nile Delta, along with what appears to be a third death involving a 50-year-old woman whose infection was previously confirmed by the World Health Organization (WHO).
Egypt's state news agency reported that a 25-year-old woman from the city of Mansoura in Dakahlia governorate died in a local hospital 3 days after she was admitted to a smaller hospital with a high fever and breathing difficulties, Reuters reported yesterday.
Egypt's health ministry said it suspected the woman had handled sick domestic birds, according to Reuters.
Health ministry spokesman Abdel Rahman Shahin said in a statement released to Egypt's state news agency today that a 36-year-old woman from Menufia governorate died in a hospital where she was admitted on Dec 29 with a high fever and difficulty breathing, according to an Agence France-Presse (AFP) report.
Shahin said the woman had been exposed to infected poultry and that her family and other contacts were undergoing testing for the disease, the AFP report said.
The 50-year-old woman, who is from Domiatt governorate, also died today from an H5N1 infection, according to a report from Kuwait News Agency. The report contained few other details about her illness and death, though it appears she is likely one of two H5N1 case-patients mentioned in a Dec 28 WHO statement. The WHO statement said she was hospitalized on Dec 24 and was in critical condition.
The latest fatality reports push the number of deaths in Egypt from the H5N1 virus over the past week to four. If the new cases and deaths are confirmed by the WHO, Egypt will have 43 case-patients and 19 fatalities from the virus.
The women's deaths represent a continued recent H5N1 spike in Egypt. Also on Dec 28 the WHO confirmed a H5N1 infection in a 22-year-old woman from Menofia governorate who was hospitalized on Dec 26 and was reported to be recovering.
Another Egyptian woman, a 25-year old from Bany Suwef governorate, died from an H5N1 infection Dec 25, according to previous reports. Her illness and death were Egypt's first in about 6 months.
John Jabbour, a WHO official in Egypt, told Reuters yesterday that the new cases were not surprising.
"Since July we've had no human cases and many things calmed down, so people returned to dealing with live birds as usual," he said. "Since the virus is there, we expect to have human cases."
Egypt has the world's third highest number of H5N1 cases, and the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization has said the virus is considered endemic among Egyptian poultry.
Dec 28 WHO statement