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Egypt human bird flu infection toll rises to eleven

Written by: Staff

CAIRO, Apr 6 (Reuters) Egypt has found two more people infected with the bird flu virus, bringing the number of human cases in the country to eleven, a government minister said.

Health and Population Minister Hatem el-Gabali, quoted by the state MENA news agency late yesterday, said the latest cases were a 16-year-old girl and an 8-year-old boy from two provinces north of Cairo.

The deadly H5N1 strain of the bird flu virus has so far killed two Egyptians.

''The girl and the boy were infected after coming into contact with domestic birds which had died, and tests ...confirmed they (the boy and girl) had been infected with bird flu,'' Gabali said, adding the two were in a stable condition.

The government says 11 Egyptians have now been infected by bird flu. The World Health Organisation has verified that four Egyptians have caught the deadly H5N1 strain, including the two who died.

Earlier yesterday, Egypt confirmed it's ninth case of human bird flu infection, in a girl aged 16 months from southern Egypt. On Sunday two sisters were confirmed to have the virus.

The avian flu virus has so far not been transmitted from human to human, but can be caught from infected birds.

The disease, which has killed at least 108 people worldwide, was first detected in birds in Egypt in February and has since devastated the poultry industry.

The government has banned the domestic rearing of fowl. But many Egyptians are ignoring the ban because they are too poor to slaughter their birds.

Although difficult for humans to catch, scientists fear bird flu could mutate into a form that can pass easily between humans, causing a pandemic.

Reuters SHB BD1428

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