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Egypt Finds New Cases of Bird Flu in Poultry


Egypt is preparing for possible comeback of the deadly H5N1 bird flu strain. The government said Monday four new cases were detected in poultry south of Cairo in the province of Souhag.

Just days after Egypt's minister of agriculture announced that the country had passed through the worst of the bird flu crisis, four new cases were discovered.

Six people have died of bird flu in Egypt since the disease first broke out in March.

The latest cases were found in a village in Souhag, 350 kilometers south of the capital. Poultry within a kilometer radius of the areas was slaughtered.

Hassan el-Bushra, a regional advisor from World Health Organization, says the new bird flu cases present a risk for humans, but a large outbreak is unlikely, as the country has been aggressively vaccinating poultry. But, he says, recurrence was bound to happen.

"It's going to be here for some time because until they vaccinate all the poultry, which is almost impossible and it hasn't been done until now. It will take some time," said Hassan el-Bushra.

El-Bushra says Egypt has learned from the last outbreak and is well positioned to deal with the virus.

"What they learnt is that transparency pays off," he said. "They have been very transparent and that paid off. They got the respect of the World Health Organization, international organizations and other countries."

He added that Egypt had more than enough supply of Tamiflu, unlike the last occurrence. Tamiflu is the antibiotic thought to be the best for fighting bird flu in humans.

Egypt has had the largest outbreak of cases outside of Asia, and there is still concern that the virus could spread across the region. Earlier this year, the government banned raising poultry on apartment roofs - a widespread practice that provides extra income for low income families. Chicken is the main source of protein among the poor, but since the initial outbreak of the virus, the price of chicken has risen by 50 percent.

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