CAIRO: With the onset of winter, there may be an increase in cases of the potentially lethal avian flu virus H5N1 among fowl and humans in Egypt, according to health ministry officials.
“In Egypt, as in the rest of the world, although we have all the necessary precautions well in place, there might be a new surge, Sayyid Al-Abbasi Egyptian health ministry official, said.
He added that the danger was renewed with each season of migration for birds, and as Egypt is on a major migratory route, it is particularly affected.
On Nov. 11, the health ministry said a new bird flu location was discovered in Luxor, 720 km south of the capital, Cairo. According to the health ministry, the area of Najaa Al-Abyada has now been quarantined, after domestic birds there were tested and found to be carrying the virus. Birds in the vicinity were being culled, Egypt’s official news agency Mena reported.
There has been no new human infections, said Al-Abbasi.
To date, the majority of cases among humans have been linked to domestic breeding, which remains very common. Bird flu can not be caught from cooked chicken.
While a ban on the practice in urban areas was imposed soon after the virus was first detected, domestic breeding in the rural areas has remained rife as the government did not feel it would be productive to impose a similar ban there.
“A ban would lead many to conceal their birds, heightening the danger rather than quelling it, Abdel Rahman Shahine, health ministry spokesperson, said.
Instead, the authorities tried to focus on raising awareness across the country as well as training health and social workers on how to deal with bird flu.
Out of 15 people infected with bird flu since March 2006, seven have died. The most recent death occurred on Oct. 30.
Ever since bird flu was first detected among fowl in Egypt, February this year, more than 30 million birds have been culled under government supervision, mostly in poultry farms.