Feb 18, 2013 (CIDRAP News) – A 36-year-old Egyptian woman from Beheira governorate recently died from an H5N1 avian influenza infection, pushing the world's number of infections reported so far this year to 10, according to an update on the disease from the World Health Organization (WHO).
The woman started having symptoms on Jan 16 and was hospitalized and started on oseltamivir (Tamiflu) treatment on Jan 20. She died on Jan 26. An investigation into the source of her illness found that she had been exposed to sick poultry before she got sick. Beheira governorate is in northern Egypt's Nile Delta.
Her illness and death raise the H5N1 toll in Egypt, where the disease is endemic in poultry, to 170 infections, including 61 deaths.
Notification of Egypt's latest case came in the WHO's monthly H5N1 assessment, which reviewed all cases that had been reported as of Feb 15. It said 10 cases have been reported since its last update on Jan 16, and all except for the Egyptian case were previously reported in the media and confirmed by official sources.
Seven of the infections were in Cambodia, spanning four provinces in the southern part of the country. Six were fatal. The WHO said none of the illnesses seemed to have epidemiologic links and most of the patients had contact with sick village poultry. Intensified surveillance conducted in the wake of the cases hasn't turned up any additional cases, and there are no indications of human-to-human transmission.
Given that H5N1 may be endemic in Cambodian poultry and that poultry and human movements increased during Lunar New Year celebrations, additional sporadic human cases could be reported, the WHO said.
Its update also covered China's recently reported H5N1 cases, one of which was fatal. Though both patients, a man and a woman, were from Guizhou province, the cases don't appear to be linked, and neither patient appears to have had contact with sick poultry. Contact tracing is still underway but has so far identified no further cases, according to the WHO.
Animal outbreaks of highly pathogenic flu viruses have increased over the past months, which is an expected seasonal pattern that coincides with the Northern Hemisphere's winter, the WHO noted.
The addition of the latest Egyptian case raised the WHO's global H5N1 total to 620 infections, and the fatality count will rise to 368 once it includes the Chinese woman's death.
Feb 15 WHO monthly H5N1 assessment
Feb 15 WHO global H5N1 case count