CAIRO: A 5-year-old from Aswan in Upper Egypt died of bird flu (H5N1) Wednesday, bringing to 10 the total number of Egyptians killed by the disease, the Health Ministry reported.
The ministry said in a Wednesday statement that so far this year 22 people have contracted the disease, eight of whom have recovered and four are still in treatment.
Ahmed Mazhar, the 5-year-old who died Wednesday, suffered from a number of respiratory symptoms before being diagnosed, and attempts to treat him failed.
The ministry in its statement announcing Mazhar’s death urged all citizens to head immediately to the nearest hospital to receive Tamiflu medication within 24 hours of the appearance of flu symptoms.
It also called on those who live and work around poultry to be careful and take precautions to prevent infection.
Poultry farming—a major source of employment for many rural Egyptians—is a common reason for the spread of the virus to humans from infected birds. The virus is prevalent in parts of Asia and northeast Africa, but Egypt for the most part has not seen heavy infection rates.
However, in a previous statement by Ministry of Health spokesperson Hossam Abdel Ghaffar to The Cairo Post, he said that Upper Egyptian governorates have recently begun recording higher instances of the disease.
He did caution though that there was no state of emergency in these areas, and the government was working diligently to halt the spread of bird flu, in part through an education campaign to increase knowledge of symptoms and how to prevent catching the virus.
The virus first appeared in Egypt in February 2006, when 14 people were infected, and six of those cases were fatal, according to the State Information Service.
Additional reporting by Waleed Abdel Salam and Nourhan Magdi