Egyptian woman hospitalized with H5N1 infection

Jul 26, 2010 (CIDRAP News) – Egyptian officials have confirmed H5N1 avian influenza in a 20-year-old woman who is hospitalized in critical condition in Cairo, according to MENA, the country's news agency.

Health ministry spokesman Abdel Rahman Shahin said the woman, from Qalyubia governorate, about 30 miles north of Cairo, was admitted to the hospital Jul 21 with fever and breathing difficulties, Daily News Egypt reported yesterday, citing MENA. He said the woman is undergoing treatment with oseltamivir (Tamilfu) and is under careful monitoring.

Reports have not said if the woman had contact with sick or infected birds.

If the World Health Organization (WHO) confirms the woman's infection, she will be listed as Egypt's 110th H5N1 case-patient. The country's 109 confirmed cases include 34 deaths.

In the first 4 months of 2010 Egypt reported 19 human H5N1 cases, 7 of them fatal. The newly confirmed case is the country's first in nearly 4 months.

Earlier this month the Egyptian government instituted a ban on the sale of all live poultry to help prevent the spread of the H5N1 virus, which is endemic in the country, according to the Daily News Egypt report. The only exception is licensed slaughterhouses that employ veterinarians to assess the health of the birds and supervise slaughtering, cleaning, and sales of the birds.

The pace of H5N1 detections in Egyptian poultry has slowed since the end of May, with only 11 reports since Jun 1, according to Strengthening Avian Influenza Detection and Response (SAIDR), a project, funded by the US Agency for International Development with assistance from Johns Hopkins University. SAIDR is designed to help Egypt coordinate avian flu efforts with its international partners.

In about half of the outbreaks the virus was detected during surveillance activities. One occurred at a poultry farm, and the rest involved household birds.

In developments elsewhere, over the last 2 months the H5N1 virus has struck poultry in six villages in Indonesia's Bengkulu province, located on the southwest Sumatra island coast, Antara news agency reported yesterday. A provincial health official said at least 75 chickens had died, with the virus confirmed in some of the remaining poultry.

He added that so far tests for the virus at area live bird markets have been negative.

Meanwhile, Indonesia's government is still debating how to spearhead the country's avian flu prevention efforts, the Jakarta Post reported today. In March, Indonesia's national bird flu commission (Komnas FBPI) wrapped up its 4-year campaign. Rita Kusriastuti, director general of zoonotic diseases at the health ministry, told the Post that some officials believe a national commission is still needed, while others believe a working group would be sufficient.

Though the number of reported human H5N1 infections in Indonesia have slowed over the past year, illnesses and deaths —as well as poultry outbreaks—continue to be reported. The H5N1 virus is endemic in Indonesia, which also has the world's highest number of conifirmed human cases and deaths. According to the most recent count from the WHO, Indonesia has reported 167 cases, 138 of them fatal.

See also:

Jul 25 Antara story

Jul 26 Jakarta Post story

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