CAIRO: The government has said that the probable cause for the recurrence of avian influenza among humans has been the refusal by some poultry farmers and bird owners to follow specific sanitation instructions.
“Some poultry owners and farmers remain unwilling to follow the culling and sanitation instructions issued by the government over six weeks ago, said health ministry spokesman Abdel Rahman Shahine. “It seems likely this is the reason why we’ve had so many cases of human bird flu in such a short space of time.
Within days of the first detection of the virus among birds in mid-February, the government ordered the mass culling of poultry in urban centers nationwide. In some cases, the military has overseen culling and sanitation procedures in and around areas where infections were initially found. To date, at least 10 million birds have been culled.
Meanwhile, the government has worked closely with the World Health Organization (WHO) and the FAO to develop plans for prevention and containment. According to Hassan Al-Bushra, WHO regional adviser for communicable diseases, the organization is actively encouraging farmers to cull their birds and is urging the public to follow official sanitation instructions.
The statement was made as three new suspected human cases of bird flu were announced, bringing the total number thus far to eight. Two young female siblings in Kafr Al-Sheikh governorate, 200 km north of Cairo, were infected when handling sick birds. One is under two years old, the other is six. According to health ministry officials, their condition is stable. “They are currently being treated in a hospital in Kafr Al-Sheikh, said health ministry official Sayyid Al-Abbasi. “Their condition is stable, while members of their family all tested negative.
Meanwhile, a 36-year-old Egyptian migrant worker in the Fayoum governorate, 80 km south of Cairo, reportedly contracted the disease while helping relatives carry out culling procedures.
The man, who normally resides in Jordan, was diagnosed with the illness upon his return to Amman where he works, with Jordanian health authorities announcing the case shortly afterwards. “The Jordanian health ministry announced his case after he underwent tests in Amman, Shahine explained. “He started to show symptoms of infection on March. 28, and was taken to the hospital two days later.
According to Shahine, the man’s condition remains stable and other workers in the Fayoum governorate have tested negative for the virus. “This is the first human case of bird flu in Jordan, Shahine emphasized, adding that Amman and Cairo were cooperating closely to contain the crisis.
Meanwhile, a 30-year-old woman whose infection was reported last week is in stable condition, said Shahine, although she “is still in intensive care, receiving treatment and artificial respiration.
Two human deaths from bird flu have been reported in Egypt to date, the first on 17 March and the second 10 days later. Health authorities have stepped up awareness and health-education campaigns following the two deaths. IRIN