April 6, 2006

Bird flu kills third Egyptian

CAIRO (Reuters) - An Egyptian girl died from bird flu on
Thursday, taking to three the country's human death toll from
the virus, the official MENA news agency reported.

The latest death was a 16-year-old girl from a province
north of Cairo, who was admitted to hospital on Wednesday.

"Iman Mohamed Abdel Gawad, a 16-year-old girl from
Monoufiya, died after being infected by bird flu," MENA said,
quoting official information.

Late on the Wednesday the health minister said a
16-year-old girl from the same province had been admitted to
hospital with bird flu after handling dead birds, taking to 11
the number of people the Egyptian government says have caught
the virus.

The World Health Organization has so far confirmed four of
those cases as the H5N1 strain of the bird flu virus, including
the previous two people who died.

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 ignore 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.