CAIRO: An Egyptian boy has died of bird flu, the 24th reported death from the disease since it broke out in the country in 2006, state media reported on Tuesday.
The six-year-old died of respiratory failure, the state-run MENA news agency quoted a health ministry official as saying.
In a statement Tuesday, Health Ministry Spokesman Abdel-Rahman Shahin said the boy, Ali Mohamed Ali, was admitted to hospital last month with symptoms of the deadly H5N1 virus.
The boy, who lived in the gritty Cairo suburb of Shubra El-Kheima, was given the drug Tamiflu but remained in critical condition until his death Tuesday.
Though no details were given about how the boy contracted the virus, women and children in Egypt are especially susceptible because they generally care for domestic fowl.
It was the first death from the disease this year, the official said, although four new cases have been reported over the past week.
The fourth was a four-year-old boy in the southern province of Sohag, the health ministry announced on Tuesday.
On Monday, the ministry said that an 18-month-old girl had contracted the virus, and last week it said that two women were in critical condition after being infected.
Sixty-seven Egyptians have contracted the potentially fatal disease since its outbreak.
Egypt has seen an increase in bird flu cases over the past two months. The World Health Organization (WHO) called in March for an investigation into why many of the victims have been young children.
Egypt hosted an international conference on bird flu last October, when Washington pledged an additional $320 million to the fight against the disease amid fears it may yet escalate into a global pandemic.
The H5N1 strain of the virus that is most dangerous to humans first emerged in Asia in 2003 and has since caused nearly 250 deaths, according to WHO figures.
Scientists fear that a mutation of the bird flu virus resulting in a strain easily transmitted among humans could create a pandemic, potentially affecting up to one fifth of the world s population. -Agencies