No new human cases of bird flu, say authorities

Daily Star Egypt Staff
3 Min Read

CAIRO: No fresh cases of the potentially deadly H5N1 bird flu virus have been detected among humans in Egypt for more than a week, health authorities said.

“The National Veterinary Poultry Production Monitoring Laboratory stated that test results of all specimens of suspected avian flu infection were negative, according to an April 19 statement by the government-run Supreme National Committee to Combat Bird Flu.

The committee, which is chaired by the health minister, went on to say that 54 people from various governorates countrywide – “who had been in contact with dead birds or who were employed at farms where infection had been detected – all tested negative for the virus.

Health ministry officials confirmed this. “We haven’t had any new human cases for the last 10 days, said ministry spokesman Abdel Rahman Shahine.

Egypt has seen a total of 12 human cases of the virus to date. These have included four fatalities, the last of which was an 18-year-old woman from Menoufiya province, 80km north of Cairo, who had been diagnosed with the virus on 11 April. According to health officials, the victim contracted the bird flu through close contact with infected fowl kept domestically.

Shahine pointed out that there have also been seven cases of complete recovery, “who are now in perfect health and have been discharged from hospital. The condition of a final case, still in hospital in the capital’s Abbasiya district, is now stable, Shahine added.

But while there have been no fresh human cases, said Shahine, there have been a number of new reports of infected birds in the Upper Egyptian city of Assiut, roughly 350km south of Cairo.

“In Assiut, all the infected birds were killed and all necessary action taken in areas around the affected area, said the spokesman. “All the people in the area were tested.

The latest discovery brings the number of governorates to find infected birds to 20 – out of Egypt’s 26 provinces – since the avian virus was first reported in mid-March.

According to Shahine, despite the absence of new human cases, it is still too early to declare the country free of bird flu.

“Maybe in the coming weeks we’ll be able to say that, said Shahine. “We need about four to six weeks, without any cases, before we could make that declaration.

The World Health Organization ultimately decides whether or not the country is free of the virus. Spokespeople for the WHO in Cairo unavailable for comment. IRIN

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