H5N1 avian influenza (AI) has really made it’s presence known in Egypt in the past month or so as the World Health Organization (WHO) reports 18 new laboratory-confirmed human cases of
avian influenza A(H5N1) virus infection since Dec. 4, according to their latest Summary and Assessment published last week.
This is the highest number of laboratory-confirmed human cases of avian influenza A(H5N1) virus infection reported by Egypt in a single month, the WHO states.
UN health officials say the cases have been reported from eight different governorates of Egypt.
Of interest is the report of a family cluster in Giza governorate. The cluster includes two confirmed cases in siblings from Giza and one probable case in the siblings’ mother who died from acute respiratory syndrome but was not tested for the avian influenza A(H5N1) virus. The investigation of this cluster is ongoing.
All cases had exposure to sick or dead poultry. Identification of such sporadic human cases or small clusters are not unexpected as avian influenza A(H5N1) viruses are known to be circulating in poultry in the country.
In addition, there are reports of an increased number of outbreaks and detections of influenza A(H5N1) viruses in poultry in Egypt compared to previous months and compared to this month in previous years.
Health officials report that the viruses tested have not shown any major genetic changes compared to previous isolates.
WHO states the risk of community-level spread of these viruses remains low as these influenza A(H5N1) viruses do not currently appear to transmit easily among people.
The number of human H5N1 AI reported in Egypt since the first of the year is 10, according to a post in Avian Flu Diary.
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From 2003 through 6 January 2015, 694 laboratory-confirmed human cases of avian influenza A(H5N1) virus infection have been officially reported to WHO from 16 countries. Of these cases, 402 have died.