Mar 30, 2010 (CIDRAP News) – The avian H5N1 influenza virus has infected two more people in Egypt, one of them fatally, the World Health Organization (WHO) reported today.
The two cases were reported by Egypt's health ministry over the last week, when flu blogs picked up on and circulated the foreign-language news reports. The two new cases, including the death, raise Egypt's H5N1 toll to 108 cases, of which 33 have been fatal.
The first case, announced by Egypt's health ministry on Mar 28, is a 30-year-old woman from Damietta governorate who was hospitalized on Mar 24 and is in critical condition. The second case, announced by the health ministry on Mar 21, is a 4-year-old boy from Beni Suef governorate who was hospitalized on Mar 18, where he received oseltamivir (Tamiflu). He died on Mar 24. The WHO report did not say when the patients got sick.
Investigations into the source of the patients' infections revealed that both had been exposed to sick and dead birds.
Egypt, in a recent update on the Strengthening Avian Influenza Detection and Response (SAIDR) Web site, has reported 70 H5N1 outbreaks in birds from Mar 1 through Mar 21. Thirteen of the outbreaks occurred at farms, and the rest involved household birds.
So far this year Egypt has reported 18 human H5N1 cases, 6 of them fatal. The number of deaths has already surpassed the country's annual totals for the disease in 2008 and 2009, which each had 4. Last year the WHO confirmed 39 Egyptian H5N1 cases, the country's highest year.
Egypt is one of three countries, along with Indonesia and Vietnam, to report H5N1 infections this year. Eight countries have reported outbreaks in poultry this year. Last week the WHO warned that H5N1 still poses a global health threat and that countries should not to let down their guard.
Mar 30 WHO statement
Mar 25 CIDRAP News story "WHO says H5N1 threat still persists"