An Egyptian woman has died of bird flu, the health ministry announced Friday, marking the country’s third death this year by the H5N1 infection.
The 43-year-old woman died in the southern city of Asyut, five days after she was hospitalized at the facility where she worked as a nurse, a ministry official from her hometown said. The woman also raised birds, an activity which could have caused her infection, the official added.
Her death brings to three the number of Egyptians who have died from bird flu since the start of 2015, said the health ministry, which reported 10 deaths last year.
According to the World Health Organization, 18 new cases of H5N1 infection were confirmed in Egypt during the most recent reporting period, from December 4 to January 6, including nine deaths. This was the highest ever monthly number of human cases in Egypt, the WHO said.
The H5N1 strain has killed more than 400 people worldwide since it first appeared in 2003, most of them in southeast Asia.
Considered a “highly pathogenic” strain of influenza, infection with the H5N1 virus follows an unusually aggressive clinical course, with rapid deterioration and high fatality. Symptoms can include high fever, sore throat and/or coughing, diarrhea, vomiting, abdominal pain, chest pain, and bleeding from the nose and gums.
Human-to-human transmission of H5N1 is rare and has only been reported in isolated cases. However, because H5N1 and other avian influenza A viruses have the potential to mutate and gain the ability to spread easily between people, ongoing monitoring of infections is crucial for public health.