Egyptian woman dies of bird flu

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

CAIRO, Egypt -- A 30-year-old woman died of the H5N1 bird flu strain on Monday, Egypt's second human death from the virus since it appeared in the country last month, the health ministry announced. Czech authorities said they suspected their first case of H5N1 in a dead swan.

Fatma Mahmoud Youssef Sabra came from a village just north of Cairo, near Egypt's other human bird flu death, said Abdel-Rahman Shahin of the health ministry.

Egypt is on a main route for migratory birds, at the crossroads between Asia and Africa.

Czech authorities, meanwhile, said they had detected the H5 bird flu virus in a dead swan and expect that tests will show it is the country's first case of H5N1.

The swan was found last week on the Vltava River near Hluboka, some 80 miles south of Prague.

Results of tests for the H5N1 strain should be known Wednesday, said Milan Malenovsky, the head of the state veterinary authority.

All of the countries that border the Czech Republic -- Germany, Austria, Slovakia and Poland -- already have reported cases of H5N1 in birds.

Swedish authorities said they found a wild mink infected with bird flu, and it was suspected to be the H5N1 strain.

It was the first time in Sweden that a highly pathogenic version of the H5 virus had been confirmed in an animal other than a bird, said Margareta Tervell, of the National Board of Agriculture. She said further tests were needed to confirm the H5N1 virus.

Dozens of birds in Sweden have tested positive for H5N1 since the first case was confirmed two weeks ago. The mink in Solvesborg, in southeastern Sweden, was believed to have contracted the disease by eating an infected bird.

The H5N1 strain of bird flu, its most aggressive form, has killed at least 105 people worldwide, according to the World Health Organization.

Virtually all the people infected with bird flu are believed to have caught it from poultry. But scientists have long warned that the virus, which is prone to mutation, could transform into a version that spreads easily from person to person, touching off a pandemic.

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