Egypt reported its second human case of avian flu Sunday, while the World Health Organization (WHO) confirmed that the 30-year-old Egyptian woman who died this week was the first casualty of the disease in the region.
A 30-year-old Egyptian man, who worked on a chicken farm in the province of Qalyoubiya, was the second human infected by the virus in Egypt, the Egyptian Health Ministry said Sunday. Police identified the man as Muhammad Bahaaeddin Abdel-Menem from the village of Noqbas.
Abdel-Menem was recovering in the hospital after being admitted Thursday with a fever, Deputy Health Minister Nasser el-Sayyed said.
The country's first known human case, a woman who died Friday, was from the same province, north of Cairo. The two victims had not had any contact and were from different villages, Sayyed told AP.
The woman, a rural farm worker who raised chickens in her backyard, had died following two weeks of flu-related symptoms. The death happened in Egypt's rural Qalyoubia governorate, which was not subject to the same wide-ranging culling regulations as more urbanized Egyptian areas.
Dr. Hassan Albushra, Regional Advisor for Emerging Diseases at the WHO's Egypt office, speculated that more cases could appear in the coming months.
"It's a matter of education and awareness," he told The Jerusalem Post by telephone. "People there are illiterate and thought they could feed their kids with infected birds."
The Egyptian government has publicized information about the virus on television, radio and in print advertisements, but many families subsist on poultry they grow on their own, and cannot afford to slaughter their flocks.
According to Albushra, the woman, Amal Muhammad Ismail, noticed that her birds were dying and decided to slaughter them while she still could, cleaning them herself before feeding them to her family. Soon after this, she began to experience flu symptoms, but did not tell her doctors she had come into contact with infected poultry until it was too late to put her on proper medication.
Albushra said that the WHO in Egypt had established that the woman died of the H5N1 virus strain, but that the samples were being confirmed in England as part of WHO regulations. He added that Ismail's family was being treated and kept under observation, but had not yet shown any signs of infection.
No direct collaboration has been initiated between Israel and Egypt over attempts to control of the virus, but the various branches of the WHO have been centralizing their efforts to inform the public of the risks and methods of treatment.