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Bird flu in Egypt spreads to areas in west, south

By Staff
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CAIRO, Feb 23 (Reuters) Bird flu has spread to birds in provinces in the south and west of Egypt, which has launched a campaign that will include mosque sermons to raise awareness about the virus, the government said today.

The government said cases of the deadly virus had now been found in birds in Beheira, on the western side of the Nile Delta, and as far south as Luxor in the Nile Valley.

Fourteen provinces out of the country's 26 now have confirmed cases of the virus in birds, up from yesterday's total of 11, the government said in a statement after a ministerial meeting attended by President Hosni Mubarak.

As part of its campaign to raise awareness, the Religious Endowments Ministry told Muslim preachers to devote their Friday sermons to efforts to combat bird flu, the official Middle East News Agency reported.

State television has also been broadcasting public service announcements outlining symptoms of birds suffering from the H5N1 virus and advice on how to dispose of any infected birds.

The government has been working with the World Health Organisation on a strategy to prevent the spread of the virus in the North African country, which lies on a bird migration route.

The government said today no human cases had been found in its tests of people in contact with infected birds.

Dozens of poultry workers protested outside parliament on Thursday against the government's decision to close down poultry street merchants while the virus is still a threat.

The government has said it will buy all healthy farm chickens until March 25 in a bid to help hard-hit poultry farms following a slump in demand for chicken meat.

REUTERS MP RAI2219

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