Upsurge in bird flu human cases in Egypt: WHO

Ahram Online , Friday 15 May 2015

The organisation said 165 cases were reported in six months, the highest number of human cases ever reported by a country over a similar period

Bird Flu
A man walks past live chickens on the outskirts of Cairo, December 4, 2014 (Photo: Reuters)

Egypt has the highest number of human’s infected with bird flu, with a notable surge in cases from November 2014 to April 2015, the World Health Organization (WHO) said on Friday.

The United Nations health organisation said that over the assessed period, a total of 165 cases, including 48 deaths were reported.

"While the risk for the current situation to escalate into an H5N1 pandemic does not appear to have been changed appreciably, the situation remains a cause for considerable concern," WHO said in its report.

A joint expert mission from several international organisations including WHO, US Naval Medical Research Unit 3 and the United Nations Children’s Fund evaluated the current situation of H5N1 in Egypt, upon the request of Egypt's health ministry.

“The most likely reason for the increase in cases is that more poultry in Egypt are infected by H5N1 and so more people are exposed to this virus,” said Dr Keiji Fukuda, WHO assistant director-general for Health Security and head of the H5N1 investigation team in Egypt.

“Coupled with insufficient awareness, behavioural patterns and inadequate precautions taken by humans when interacting with poultry, this explains what we are seeing,” Fukada added.

Seventy percent of the reported human cases were a result of exposure to infected backyard poultry, the report said, as many small farmers turned to the unmonitored business for food and income.

The organisation suggested animal and human disease surveillance, appropriate animal vaccination programmes, as well as investments in agriculture and veterinary services would contribute to a long-term solution.

The virus first appeared in Egypt in 2006.


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