Jan 26, 2009 (CIDRAP News) – Health ministries in China and Egypt reported four new human H5N1 avian influenza cases over the past few days, including three from different parts of China, two of which were fatal.
Today's World Health Organization (WHO) confirmation of a case in a 2-year-old Egyptian girl pushed the global H5N1 case count to 400. If the WHO confirms all of the new cases and deaths, the total will rise to 403 cases, 254 of them fatal.
The Chinese cases bring the number reported in China since Jan 1 to seven, including the case of a Beijing woman who got sick Dec 24 and died Jan 5. (The WHO classified her illness as a 2008 case because of the onset date.) The 2-year-old girl represents Egypt's second case of 2009.
Reporting China's most recent death from the virus, the country's health ministry announced that an 18-year-old man from Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region in south-central China near the Vietnamese border died today, according to Xinhua, the state news agency. The man got sick on Jan 19 in Beiliu city and was transferred to Yulin Municipal Red Cross Hospital on Jan 24.
The health ministry said the man had contact with dead poultry before he got sick, according to a report today from Reuters.
Yesterday China's health ministry announced that a 29-year-old man from Guizhou province in the southwestern part of the country was in critical condition with an H5N1 infection, according to a report today from Agence France-Presse (AFP).
The ministry said the man became ill on Jan 15 after he was exposed to live poultry, AFP reported.
In the third new Chinese case, a local health official said a 31-year-old woman from Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region in northwestern China died on Jan 23, according to a report yesterday from Xinhua.
Wang Xiaoyan, deputy director of the region's health department, said the woman, who lived in Urumqi, the region's capital, got sick on Jan 10 after visiting a poultry market.
Some public health officials have raised concerns about the potential spread of the H5N1 virus in China during the Lunar New Year, when celebrations often feature chicken dishes. The celebration begins today and lasts for 15 days. The WHO has urged people to observe routine safety precautions by thoroughly cooking chicken and washing hands after contact with raw meat.
Meanwhile, the health ministry in Egypt today announced that a 2-year-old girl from Shebin Elkom district in Menofia governorate in the northern part of the country got sick on Jan 23 and was hospitalized immediately, according to a WHO statement. She was in stable condition, the agency said.
An investigation into the source of the girl's infection suggests she had recent contact with sick and dead poultry, the WHO said.
Jan 26 WHO statement