CAIRO: The World Health Organization (WHO) has confirmed that four Egyptians have caught bird flu, including two that died from the virus, an Egyptian health ministry official said on Monday. Nasr Al-Sayyed told Reuters that a WHO laboratory in Britain had verified the four cases. The result was received on Sunday, he said. The Egyptian government sends samples from people it suspects have caught the virus to the WHO for final confirmation. The government says a total of eight Egyptians have been infected by bird flu. Two of those have recovered, while the others are still being treated. The first human death in Egypt from bird flu, which has spread across Asia, Africa and parts of Asia, was reported on March 18. The dead woman was 30 years old and reared chickens at her home.
Bird flu has killed at least 105 people worldwide, according to the most recent figures from the WHO. That figure does not include the deaths in Egypt. The virus was first detected in Egypt in birds in February. The government has banned domestic rearing of fowl, but people in poor rural areas are ignoring instructions to get rid of their poultry.
An Egyptian worker in Jordan was also identified Friday as having been infected by the deadly virus, the kingdom s first human case. Infected poultry have been found in at least 19 of the 26 provinces in Egypt, the hardest-hit country in the region. Egypt is on a major route for migratory birds, at the crossroads between Asia and Africa.
Cairo Zoo has also been hit badly by the virus. On Feb. 19, the health ministry ordered the closure of the zoo after several birds died from avian flu. The zoo s artificial lake was considered a breeding ground for the virus after 82 birds were found dead by the lake from avian flu. Six of them, including a duck, turkey and Chinese geese all carried the H5N1 strain. Another 563 birds who paddled in the lake were slaughtered and the government drained the water body. Bird flu has so far not been transmitted from human to human, but can be caught from infected birds. Although difficult for humans to catch, scientists fear it could mutate into a form that can pass easily between humans.
You need to do more health education. Most of the cases are backyard farms and people who are not really abiding by the instructions of the government, a WHO spokesman had previously told The Daily Star Egypt.
Farmers in Egypt say the poultry market is worth about LE 17 billion ($3 billion) and supports up to 3 million people, but has been devastated. Agencies