CAIRO: Egypt has intensified precautionary measures against the spread of bubonic plague across the Libyan border, according to reports.
The Ministry of Health has declared a state of emergency along the border, where it is conducting health checks on everyone entering from Libya, according to a UPI report.
Pest control teams are also monitoring and spraying down vehicles entering at the border town of Salloum.
There have not been any confirmed cases of the disease in Egypt.
Libya has been dealing with a surge of confirmed plague cases since mid-June. At least 13 cases have been reported since it surfaced in that country for the first time in over 20 years.
At least one related death has been reported in the town of Tubruq, around 93 miles from the Egyptian border. After initial reports in June, Egyptian authorities tightened security along the border between the two countries.
On the other side of Libya, Algeria has recently confirmed 50 cases of bubonic plague and two deaths.
Observers have identified two ways for the cross-border transfer of the disease from Libya: along major travel and commercial routes, and unofficial crossings along traditional paths that will be more difficult to control for the bacteria.
Since the development of the outbreak, Libyan authorities have worked with World Health Organization advisers. WHO representatives are also advising border precautions.
What we can say here is that the situation is under control, WHO Dr John Jabbour told UPI.
Bubonic plague is a caused by a rodent-born infectious bacteria transferred to humans by flea and insect bites. In its early stages, it is highly treatable and unlike less common forms of the plague, the bubonic type does not spread directly from person to person.
The WHO reports between 1,000 and 3,000 cases of bubonic plague each year.
Egyptian fears of bubonic plague accompany steadily increasing reports of swine flu infections. The Ministry of Health announced yesterday the nation’s 92nd case, though the WHO-labeled global pandemic has thus far not been fatal in Egypt.
There have been nearly 100,000 cases worldwide and 429 deaths, according to the WHO update released last week.
The most recent confirmed cases of swine flu were identified at the Cairo International airport. A 16 year-old Egyptian national arriving from America and a four-year old Indonesian girl were treated and are now in stable condition.
On July 1, the Ministry of Health also announced three new cases of avian flu affecting two toddlers and a four-year-old girl. All three have recovered from the influenza strain that has taken the lives of 27 Egyptians since 2006.