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Wednesday, November 19, 2014, 16:38

Egyptian woman dies of bird flu, 2nd death in 2 days

By Reuters
 Egyptian woman dies of bird flu, 2nd death in 2 days

An Egyptian poultry vendor weighs chicken for a customer at his shop in Damietta, 195 km north of Cairo.(AFP PHOTO/KHALED DESOUKI)

CAIRO - An Egyptian woman died on Tuesday of H5N1 bird flu after coming into contact with infected birds, the second death from the disease in two days and the third in the country this year, a health ministry statement said.

The 30-year-old woman was from the province of Minya, south of Cairo. She died in a hospital in the southern city of Assiut, the statement on the official MENA news agency said.

A 19-year-old woman died of bird flu on Monday in Assiut.

Egypt has identified a total of seven cases of the virus this year, including the three who died.

The World Health Organisation says that, whenever bird flu viruses are circulating in poultry, there is a risk of sporadic infections or small clusters of human cases, especially in people exposed to infected birds or contaminated environments.

Human cases of H5N1 are rare, however, and the virus does not currently appear to transmit easily from person to person.

According to data from the World Health Organization (WHO), in the period from 2003 until Oct 2, 2014, there were 668 laboratory-confirmed human cases of H5N1 infection officially reported from 16 countries. Of these cases, of which 393 died.

Egypt's H5N1 cases have largely occurred in impoverished rural areas in the south of the country, where villagers, often women, tend to keep and slaughter poultry in the home.

Egypt has identified 180 cases of bird flu since 2006, of which 66, or 36 percent, have died, the health ministry said on its website. It said infection levels had dropped since 2012.

The ministry said it had taken measures to improve its monitoring for the virus at hospitals around the country and to build its strategic stocks of Tamiflu and other medicines.

It has also set up isolation units at hospitals around Egypt and was monitoring health workers who had come into contact with suspected cases and was offering training in affected areas.

The ministry has also distributed its national plan to combat bird flu to health centres to provide information and has a hotline for Egyptians who need advice about the virus.

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