Egyptian woman becomes third to die of bird flu in a week

Monday, December 31, 2007

A woman in Egypt has died of the H5N1 strain of bird flu. H5N1 has killed two other Egyptian women already this week, bringing the total dead of the virus in Egypt to 18.

Fardous Mahammed Hadad was taken into hospital on Sunday after having difficulty breathing and developing a high fever, and subsequently tested positive for bird flu. She died today, at the age of 36.

As well as Hadad, who was from Menoufia, this week saw the deaths of Fatima Fathi Mohammed from Daqahliya and Ola Youness Mohammed from Beni Suef. They all died from H5N1; Ola Youness Mohammed's case was Egypt's first since July. In addition, the World Health Organisation says two further woman are infected without giving any further details; the United Nations health agency says that on December 24 a 50-year-old woman was hospitalised and remains in critical condition, whilst a chicken seller, 22, is recovering from the infection in intensive care.

Egypt's Ministry of Health has recorded a total of 42 confirmed cases of H5N1 infection, including the 18 fatal cases. Most of the cases, including the latest death, were females who had daily contact with chickens or turkeys, most keeping the animals in their back yards. Egypt's first case of bird flu was in February 2006.

Bird flu began in Asia in 2003, and since then has spread across 45 countries worldwide, killed at least 212 people of 340 infections and triggered the killing of millions of birds. Egypt is one of the worst-hit non-Asian countries, due in part to a combination of its location along the paths taken by many migratory birds and the fact that many people keep fowl close to their homes. It is feared that if the virus mutates into a form that can be easily transferred from human to human the result could be a global pandemic causing millions of deaths.