Egypt reports two more human bird flu infections

By Alireza Ronaghi

CAIRO (Reuters) - Two more Egyptians have been infected with the bird flu virus, Egyptian Health Minister Hatem el-Gabali said on Sunday, taking to eight the number of reported human cases in the country. 

The two were sisters, one aged 18 months and the other six years, from Kafr el-Sheikh province north of Cairo. The pair, who had handled dead birds, were in a stable condition. Blood tests on their immediate family were negative for the virus. 

An Egyptian labourer working in Jordan was diagnosed with the disease on Friday. 

A World Health Organisation spokesman said only five cases had been confirmed by the organisation. Of the five, two have died, two have recovered and one is still in hospital. Bird flu has killed at least 105 people worldwide. 

The disease was first detected in Egypt in February and has since devastated its poultry industry. Efforts to combat the disease have been hampered by poor Egyptians breeding poultry in backyards or in homes to supplement their income, despite a ban. 

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

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