Second human bird flu case found in Egypt; Israel continues poultry slaughter

Monday, March 20, 2006

CAIRO, Egypt -- Egypt reported its second human case of avian flu Sunday, and Israel continued its slaughter of hundreds of thousands of birds while waiting to learn if the disease had spread to poultry there.

A 30-year-old Egyptian who worked on a chicken farm in the province of Qalyoubiya was the second person infected by the virus in Egypt, the Health Ministry said Sunday.

The man, identified as Mohammed Bahaaeddin Abdel-Menem, was recovering in the hospital after being admitted Thursday with a fever, Deputy Health Minister Nasser el-Sayyed said.

Ibrahim al-Gazzar, a cousin of the latest victim, said he doubted that other villagers were educated enough to seek medical treatment. "They would think it was a normal flu -- that will be a disaster."

Um Mohammed, a 35-year-old widow and mother of two, complained that although she had told authorities that her birds were dying, "They did nothing to help me."

"Day after day, I watched my chickens die. I felt as though I was handcuffed," she 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, el-Sayyed said.

The Egypt-based U.S. Naval Medical Research was conducting additional tests to confirm whether the illnesses were caused by the H5N1 strain, the Health Ministry said in a statement run by the state Middle East News Agency.

Turkey and Iraq are the only other Middle Eastern countries where humans have died of the virus.

Israeli veterinary officials on Sunday proceeded with the slaughter of hundreds of thousands of birds.

The H5N1 virus has killed at least 98 people -- most in Asia -- since 2003.

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