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Egypt Suspects Third Human Case of Bird Flu


Egypt says it might have its third human case of bird flu. A woman has preliminarily tested positive for the virus, but further tests are being run to confirm the diagnosis. The news comes just days after Egypt announced its first human fatality from bird-flu.

Egypt's latest suspected case of avian influenza emerged in the same farming region as the two previous cases. The 30-year-old woman is reported to be in intensive care in a Cairo hospital after having been given the wrong medicine by a clinic in her village.

She comes from Qaliubiya governorate, just north of Cairo.

The deadliest strain of the virus, known as H5N1, was first detected in Egyptian birds last month. Authorities announced the first human case on Saturday, when they acknowledged that a woman from Qaliubiya had died of bird flu.

The second case was a man from the same province, who is now recovering and expected to be discharged from the hospital within days. Egyptian state television broadcast an interview with the man, Mohamed Bahaa Abdel-Moneim, who owned a small poultry farm where all the birds had been killed in accordance with government instructions.

He says he was in the middle of thousands of dead birds. He says he wore protective gear while they were being slaughtered, including a facemask and gloves, but so much dust and feathers were flying around that he is sure he breathed some of it in.

A spokesman for the World Health Organization (WHO) praised Abdel-Moneim for checking himself into the hospital as soon as he started feeling sick, and for telling his doctors right away that he had been working with birds, so he could get the proper medication early enough to save his life.

WHO spokesman Ibrahim El-Kerdany says some people are still keeping live birds despite government orders to kill them, and are afraid to admit that to their doctors, meaning they do not get the right treatment in time.

"It is when they do not come out and say," he said. "People sort of live with their birds and sometimes have been trying to evade the instructions of the national committee to come out and tell us if any of the birds have been infected. But in both scenarios, of the first and third cases, the women seem to have been slaughtering their own chickens and there had been H5N1 among the chickens."

Egyptian health authorities say several more people have reported to hospitals with flu-like symptoms and are being checked for the disease as a precaution.

Avian influenza has killed nearly 100 people around the world, mainly in Asia.