The number of human H5N1 avian influenza (AI) cases continue their spike in Egypt as health ministry officials advise of the 17th case of the year in three year old child from Sohag Governorate, according to a report (computer translated).

H5N1 avian influenza Image/Cynthia Goldsmith/ Jackie Katz
H5N1 avian influenza
Image/Cynthia Goldsmith/ Jackie Katz

This is the 13th H5N1 infection reported out of Egypt in less than a month. Eight fatalities have been reported.

This is the most cases and deaths due to H5N1 AI in Egypt since 2011 when the north African country reported 39 cases and 15 deaths.

Since 2003, there has been nearly 700 human H5N1 AI cases reported with only Indonesia reporting more cases than Egypt.

H5N1 infection in humans can cause severe disease and has a high mortality rate. Almost all cases of H5N1 infection in people have been associated with close contact with infected live or dead birds, or H5N1-contaminated environments.

The symptoms of H5N1 infection may include fever (often high fever, > 38°C) and malaise, cough, sore throat, and muscle aches. Other early symptoms may include abdominal pain, chest pain and diarrhoea. The infection may progress quickly to severe respiratory illness (for example, difficulty breathing or shortness of breath, pneumonia, Acute Respiratory Distress Syndrome) and neurologic changes (altered mental status or seizures).