From: Reuters
Published February 25, 2008 06:04 PM

Egyptian girl tests positive for bird flu-MENA

CAIRO (Reuters) - A 4-year-old Egyptian girl tested positive for bird flu on Monday, the 44th confirmed human case in the Arab world's most populous country, state news agency MENA said.

Ministry of Health spokesman Abdel Rahman Shaheen said the girl had been treated with the antiviral drug tamiflu and had been transferred from Minya province to a hospital in Cairo, the agency said.

The girl is suffering from a high fever and is having trouble breathing because she has inflammation of one of her lungs.

Four Egyptian women died from bird flu in December. Their deaths broke a 5-month pause in human cases in Egypt and brought to 19 the number of Egyptians who have died of the H5N1 bird flu virus since it emerged in Egypt in early 2006.

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It is the third winter the virus has struck after lying low during Egypt's hot summers, when it is much less likely to spread from one carrier to another.

Around 5 million households in Egypt depend on poultry as a main source of food and income, and the government has said this makes it unlikely the disease can be eradicated despite a large-scale poultry vaccination programme.

WHO officials have said the bird flu virus was now considered endemic in Egypt.

Deaths from bird flu total more than 230 worldwide since 2003 and have been reported in several African and Asian countries, as well as in Turkey and Azerbaijan. Egypt has been the hardest-hit country outside of Asia.

Health experts fear the virus could mutate into a form that spreads easily from one person to another, possibly triggering a pandemic that could kill millions.

(Writing by Aziz El-Kaissouni)

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