CAIRO: Egypt reported a fourth suspected case of bird flu in humans on Tuesday, in a 17-year-old boy whose father had an outbreak of the disease on his chicken farm in the Nile Delta on Saturday and Sunday.
Health Minister Hatem el-Gabali, quoted by the state news agency MENA, said the boy was taken to hospital in the town of Tanta on Sunday and was receiving Tamiflu treatment. His condition is good and stable , he added.
Laboratories are testing samples from the boy for the deadly virus, the minister said.
Meanwhile on Monday a third suspected human case of bird flu had been discovered and the woman infected was in hospital. She is the third infected person Egypt has reported in three days. All are from the Qalyoubiyah governorate, about 40 km (25 miles) north of Cairo. A man admitted to hospital on Sunday recovered after being administered Tamiflu, but a woman died on Friday despite receiving the drug. Initial tests in the two cases had shown virus infection, but authorities are awaiting further tests for final confirmation. The state-run MENA news agency said on Tuesday that the woman s health was improving and it was hoped she would leave hospital by the end of the week.
Hassan El-Bushra, the World Health Organization s regional adviser for emerging diseases, said samples from the latest case had been sent abroad for further testing. It was proven that she had handled infected birds and slaughtered some of these birds 15 days ago, MENA quoted El-Gabali as saying. Tamiflu is one of the most effective ways of treating humans with bird flu, which has spread across Europe, Africa and parts of Asia, and killed more than 90 people worldwide since 2003. The highly pathogenic H5N1 bird flu virus was first found in birds in Egypt last month. So far, 17 of Egypt s 26 governorates and the city of Luxor have reported cases in birds. Although hard to catch, people can contract bird flu after coming into contact with infected birds. Scientists fear the virus could mutate into a form that could pass easily between humans, triggering a pandemic in which millions could die.
Meanwhile, Pakistan on Tuesday became the latest country to confirm bird flu in poultry. It said the bird flu virus found in two poultry flocks late last month was the H5N1 strain. But livestock Commissioner Muhammad Afzal said there had been no other cases of bird flu since the outbreak was first reported on Feb. 27 at farms in the North West Frontier Province and there were no cases of humans being infected. Bird flu has killed about 100 people since 2003 with the vast majority contracting the disease through contact with infected birds, particularly their droppings. Health experts say the more the virus spreads among birds, the greater the chances of more humans becoming infected. But the battle needed urgent funding and equipment on the ground, something that was lacking in many impoverished nations. David Nabarro, senior U.N. coordinator for avian influenza, said massive aid pledged to help poor countries tackle bird flu has not materialized and African countries and the United Nations must plug the shortfall to fund emergency plans. Donors pledged $1.9 billion at a special conference in China in January to help developing countries strengthen health and veterinary services and boost global surveillance measures. The spread of bird flu is reducing demand for poultry in a number of countries and leaving farmers with some tough decisions to make. Many farmers in the Netherlands are choosing to wait rather than vaccinate poultry against bird flu because they fear a negative effect on exports. The main Dutch poultry farmers organizations said most farmers have not started vaccinating because the biggest importer of Dutch poultry, Germany, refuses to buy meat and eggs from vaccinated animals as consumers fear possible health risk. Preventive vaccination is voluntary throughout the country and an alternative to the requirement that birds be kept indoors to avoid contact with wild birds infected with H5N1. Reuters