Human H5N1 toll rises in Egypt as bird outbreaks cited elsewhere

Mar 15, 2010 (CIDRAP News) – The World Health Organization (WHO) recently confirmed the H5N1 avian influenza death of a 20-year-old woman and announced a new H5N1 case, in an 18-month-old boy who is hospitalized.

The WHO's Mar 12 statement contained new details about the woman's illness and death, which were first announced by Egypt's health ministry on Mar 11. The woman from Qualubia governorate, which is about 30 miles north of Cairo, was pregnant. She was hospitalized on Mar 5 and was treated with oseltamivir (Tamiflu) but died on Mar 9.

The 18-month-old boy is from Kafr El Sheikh governorate, about 83 miles north of Cairo, the WHO report said He was hospitalized on Mar 2 and received oseltamivir; he is in stable condition.

Investigations revealed that both the woman and child had been exposed to sick and dead poultry.

The WHO also confirmed the death of a 53-year-old man who the agency had announced as Egypt's 104th case-patient on Mar 4. He was from Qualubia governorate. He got sick on Feb 27 and was hospitalized and treated with oseltamivir the same day. The man had previously been listed in critical condition.

The WHO's announcements push Egypt's H5N1 count to 106 cases, including 32 fatalities.

So far this year Egypt has reported 16 H5N1 cases, of which 5 have been fatal. With the two latest fatality reports, the number of H5N1 deaths in Egypt has already surpassed the total for 2009, when 4 of the 39 patients who had confirmed infections died.

Egypt's new cases and deaths raise the world's H5N1 count to 488 cases and 289 fatalities, according to the WHO's latest total.

In other H5N1 developments, animal health officials in Bangladesh and Vietnam recently new outbreaks of H5N1 in poultry, according to news reports. In Bangladesh the virus struck chickens at one of the country's largest poultry farms, Agence France-Presse (AFP) reported. The farm is located in Thakurgaon, in northern Bangladesh. The virus was found in 15 of the farm's sheds, and veterinary authorities on Mar 13 culled 117,000 birds to control the outbreak.

Not counting the most recent outbreak, Bangladesh has reported 17 H5N1 outbreaks so far this year, according to reports from the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE). All but one of the outbreaks has occurred on poultry farms.

In Vietnam, the virus hit a family farm in Bac Ninh province in the northern part of the country, Voice of Vietnam news reported today. Provincial officials said the farmer had vaccinated his 400-bird flock 4 months ago. The birds showed symptoms on Mar 10, with mass deaths reported the next evening. Authorities culled the remaining birds.

Vietnam has reported several poultry outbreaks so far this year, along with four human cases, one of which as fatal. One of the cases, in a 25-year-old woman from Hanoi, has not yet been confirmed by the WHO.

See also:

Mar 12 WHO statement

OIE reports on H5N1 outbreaks in Bangladesh

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