New Case Of Human
Bird Flu In Egypt

CAIRO (IRIN) -- Another case of avian flu in birds has been confirmed in Egypt. Ministry of Health officials and World Health Organisation (WHO) staff said on Wednesday that a case of H5N1 (avian flu) in birds was detected in a house near Aswan, in Upper Egypt.
WHO spokesman Hassan el-Bushra told IRIN that the infected animals, raised in the backyard of a house in the town of Edfu, have now been culled. Ministry of Health officials have "instigated the WHO-approved control measures, and no human infection has been reported", he said.
Animals within a one-kilometre radius of the site of infection have been culled and removed for sterile burial.
This year, Egypt suffered the worst outbreak of avian flu outside Asia. The disease was largely brought under control, although fears remained of a new outbreak.
The first announcements of avian flu cases among poultry in the country were made in mid-February. This lead to the culling of at least 20 million birds nationwide from that time to May, when alarm over the disease dissipated among the public.
Fourteen human cases of bird flu have been found in Egypt since mid-March, al-Bushra said. Of these, six have died. The last was a 75-year-old woman who died on 18 May.
Specialists say that the overwhelming majority of human cases in Egypt have been women who were infected by domestically kept birds.
Soon after the announcement of the first cases of bird infections, a law was passed banning domestic breeding in urban areas. Health authorities did not push for similar restrictions in rural areas, however, where domestic breeding is more widespread and economically vital.
"A ban [in rural areas] would lead many to conceal their birds, heightening the danger rather than quelling it," said health ministry press spokesman Abdel Rahman Shahine at the time. "Instead, we're working to help them increase awareness to prevent the emergence of new cases."
Although health authorities sought to assure the public through various awareness campaigns that the consumption of cooked chicken was risk-free throughout the crisis, the collapse in demand and the mass culling combined brought the poultry industry to a standstill.
Infections among birds were found in 20 of the country's 26 governorates, according to the health ministry, and until the latest case on Wednesday the situation was presumed to be under control.
However, faced with the continued prospect of the virus mutating into a new, more dangerous form, health authorities have maintained safety measures. "Until the last virus is eradicated, the risk continues to exist," said al-Bushra.



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