WHO confirms 4 of 8 reported bird flu cases in Egypt

April 3, 2006 (CIDRAP News) – The deaths of four Egyptians have been laid at the door of avian influenza, the World Health Organization (WHO) confirmed today, while Egyptian officials' case tally has reached twice that number.

In addition, an Egyptian was diagnosed with avian flu in Jordan late last week, though he contracted the disease in Egypt, according to news services.

A WHO collaborating laboratory in the United Kingdom has confirmed that four Egyptians were infected by the H5N1 virus, the WHO announced in a news release today. Those four cases had previously been identified through testing in Egypt. Two of the patients died, and two have recovered.

Those confirmations bring the WHO total to 107 fatalities out of 190 confirmed H5N1 cases.

A fifth Egyptian patient, an 18 year-old-girl from the Kafr el-Sheikh governorate in the north, has tested positive for H5N1 in Egypt, but confirmatory tests by WHO are pending, the agency said. She is still in the hospital undergoing treatment.

Meanwhile, Egyptian authorities say they have confirmed three more human cases of avian flu, news reports said.

Health Minister Hatem el-Gabali told Reuters news service yesterday that two sisters, also from Kafr el-Sheikh, have tested positive for the virus. One girl is 6 years old; the other is 18 months. Both handled dead birds, el-Gabali told Reuters, and both were in stable condition. Blood tests on close family members were negative, he added.

In addition, an Egyptian man who has been working in Jordan was diagnosed with H5N1 there on Mar 31 and was in stable condition, according to the United Nations Integrated Regional Information Networks (IRIN) news service. He apparently is the first person in Jordan to have an H5N1 infection. The first bird outbreaks in Jordan were reported about 10 days ago.

The man, a 31-year-old construction worker named Abdul Fattah Ahmed Mess'ed, has worked in Jordan the past 4 years, said Saeed Darwazeh, Jordan's health minister, as quoted by Agence France-Presse (AFP) in a Mar 31 report.

Mess'ed arrived at the Red Sea port of Aqaba on Mar 28 on a boat from Egypt, Darwazeh said. He was sent to the Karak state hospital, south of Amman, where tests identified an H5N1 infection. Additional tests by a WHO lab were pending, the AFP story said.

Mess'ed was said to have had contact with infected birds in Egypt, AFP reported. Six people who shared an apartment with him were put under observation, authorities said on Mar 31.

Meanwhile, as India completed the culling of about 225,000 poultry to prevent the spread of H5N1, a senior official told AFP today that he anticipated finding more cases this week.

Bijay Kumar, animal husbandry commissioner for western Maharashtra state, said that test results were expected soon on poultry samples from a 580-square-mile area that encompasses 100 villages. Officials were ready to start culling again if necessary, he added.

In Russia, avian flu has stopped a traditional spring bird hunt, according to a United Press International report today. Local officials have banned the spring hunt in Kamchatka, a peninsula in northeastern Siberia that is visited by migratory birds from Japan, China, and Korea.

See also

WHO update on cases in Egypt

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