Egypt has been reporting a record year in human cases of avian influenza virus H5N1 in 2015, in fact, international health officials have reported 165 cases from Nov. 2014 to April 30, 2015.

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

This is by far the highest number of human cases ever reported by a country over a similar period. In addition, 48 deaths have been reported during the same period (29% CFR).

Officials say the increases in the bird flu in Egypt is not due to virus mutations, but rather to more people becoming exposed to infected poultry.

“Based on all the evidence we have, we believe the upsurge is not explained by changes in the virus itself,” said Dr Keiji Fukuda, WHO Assistant Director-General for Health Security and head of the H5N1 investigation team in Egypt.

“The most likely reason for the increase in cases is that more poultry in Egypt are infected by H5N1 and so more people are exposed to this virus. Coupled with insufficient awareness, behavioral patterns and inadequate precautions taken by humans when interacting with poultry this explains what we are seeing.”