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H5N1 Bird Flu Spreads in Egypt

Recombinomics Commentary

February 19, 2006

Since the first announcement on Friday the authorities have reported cases of bird flu among poultry in at least eight provinces, stretching from Dakahlia and Biheira on the Mediterranean coast to Qena in the far south.

About 1,000 poultry from private houses have been culled, along with 14,000 birds at farms north of Cairo. The authorities are in the process of slaughtering another 56,000 at a farm in the Nile Delta town of Mit Ghamr, the ministry said.

The above report describes the spread of H5N1 in Egypt (see Africa map).  Other reports describe ten provinces as well as the closing of eight state-run zoos, including the zoo in Cairo.  In Cairo 83 birds have died and six have tested positive for H5N1.  Birds are also affected in individual households in Cairo.

The rapid spread in Egypt matches spread in several additional hot spots such as Nigeria and neighboring countries, Germany, and India, where a fatality has been described (see world map).

These widespread and expanding outbreaks are cause for concern.  Many neighboring countries have yet to report outbreaks, further documenting the poor surveillance.  The outbreaks in western Europe suggest H5N1 had migrated into the region in the fall, while the outbreaks in Egypt and Nigeria indicate significant numbers of H5N1 infected birds migrated through the region during the fall also.

Soon birds in Africa will be migrating back north, creating significant increases in H5N1 in the Middle East, Europe and North America.


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