Qena girl contracts bird flu, says WHO

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CAIRO: A 30-month-old Egyptian girl has contracted the bird flu virus, bringing the number of avian flu cases in the country to 60, a World Health Organization spokesman said on Friday.

The girl, from the southern Egyptian province of Qena, was taken to a hospital after showing symptoms of fever on Monday, the WHO spokesman told Reuters.

Egypt is one of the few countries affected by bird flu that does not compensate farmers when poultry is destroyed, though many experts say this is the best way to ensure rapid detection of new outbreaks.

Twenty-three Egyptians have died after contracting the virus, with many of the reported cases involving domestic poultry which some 5 million households depend on as a main source of food and income.

Since 2003, the H5N1 avian influenza virus has infected at least 410 people in 15 countries and killed 254 of them. It has killed or forced the culling of more than 300 million birds in 61 countries in Asia, the Middle East, Africa and Europe.

While H5N1 rarely infects people, experts fear it could mutate into a form that people could easily pass to one another, sparking a pandemic that could kill millions. -Reuters

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By Reuters
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