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New human H5N1 bird flu case in Egypt

According to officials and experts, slow behavioural change in Egypt in spite of the extensive awareness campaigns, has resulted in a fresh case of human H5N1 bird flu, since May.//

A woman in the northern delta province of Gharbiya has been detected with the most aggressive form of bird flu virus, H5N1.

According to the health officials, the woman, Hanan Abul Magd, 39, was suffering from high fever and shortness of breath. She was then tested for bird flu and was found positive. The infection could have spread to her when she slaughtered her diseased flock of ducks.

The total number of human bird flu cases in Egypt has reached 15 ever since the first case was reported in February. Of them, 6 died and 8 recovered after treatment with Tamiflu.

Poultry is a major source of food and income for the Egyptians. They fail to adhere to safety measures in spite of the widespread government campaigns along with the World Health Organisation (WHO).

"There is a big problem with behavioural change in Egypt. People are just not accepting the change," said WHO expert John Jabbour. The government’s failure in controlling the outbreak has been condemned by experts, as it has resulted in 6 deaths between March and May this year.

"The first time, the government was caught by surprise a little and did not take all the necessary precautions. But they have been working very hard since," said Talaat Khatib, professor of food hygiene at Assiut University. "There is also less of a threat now after the government slaughtered so much infected poultry during the last outbreak," he said.

Domestic rearing is the biggest problem. In order to spread awareness, several groups of experts were sent to the 20 affected governorates in Cairo.

"The government is trying to control it. But getting into all the homes is a very long and difficult procedure," said Jabbour.

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