Friday, January 5, 2007

Avian flu jumps to humans in Egypt

According to Donald G. McNeil who wrote an article in the International Herald Tribune (Africa & Middle East), several cases of avian flu have spread from poultry to humans in the Nile Delta.

Egyptian health authorities reported nine confirmed human deaths from H5N1 since it was first discovered in birds during February and in a person in March, 2006.

McNeil points out that the health and veterinary authorities cancelled duck hunting season, banned imports of live birds and did not allow anyone to keep birds in their homes. Diseased flock were culled and healthy ones, vaccinated. This task didn’t go well without problems. Not only were there were vaccine shortages, but poor rural people disregarded the newly implemented regulations and hid birds under their beds, as they could not afford to loose their livestock.

An Egyptian newspaper, The Daily Star reported an estimated slaughter of 30 million birds mostly from the poultry industry. Although reports of the disease tapered of during the summer, new cases were reported during the month of September when the bird migration stopped over in the delta area. McNeil says local news media reports suggest that there have been about 20 suspected human cases in the northern part of Egypt.

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