File Photo: A chicken farmer covers his face as a precautionary measure from H5N1 virus which can be transmitted from poultry. (Photo: Al-Ahram)
An Egyptian woman died on Monday in Upper Egypt's Minya governorate from complications from the H5N1 virus, or bird flu, raising the total number of victims to six in Egypt this year, the health ministry said in a statement.
The woman, 29-years-old, died due to severe pulmonary infection and breathing problems. A 40-year-old man died for the same reasons as he reached a Minya hospital, the ministry said. Also in Minya, a two-year-old girl was cured, the third recent bird flu case in the governorate, according to the ministry.
In mid-November, Egypt's hospitals entered a state of emergency after two bird flu deaths were reported in the same week – a 30-year-old woman in Minya and a 19-year-old woman in Assiut.
A total of 11 bird flu patients have been reported in 2014, the ministry said.
Health Minister Adel El-Adawy met with veterinary officials to follow news of the virus and discuss precautionary measures that can be taken to limit its spread, the statement said, adding that all persons who deal with poultry should report to hospitals if they notice symptoms.
Egypt has had 26 percent of global bird flu cases since the virus was first reported in 2006, with 180 out of 660 cases, 65 of whom died, according to Henrik Bekedam, a World Health Organisation representative in Egypt.
Most of the cases are in rural areas, where human come into more regular contact with poultry. The H5N1 virus, a type of influenza that causes respiratory diseases in birds, can contaminate humans through direct contact with dead or alive infected poultry, according to the WHO. The mortality rate, when people get infected, is around 60%.
The symptoms include "fever, malaise, cough, sore throat, and muscles aches" and can develop into respiratory illness and neurologic changes.