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Archive for Saturday, February 18, 2006

Bird flu confirmed in Egypt, France

U.N. worried about spread in W. Africa

February 18, 2006

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— Tests confirmed the deadly strain of bird flu in Egypt, as France reported a probable first case Friday and the United Nations expressed growing concern about the virus' spread through West Africa.

Egypt reported Friday that about 20 dead birds had tested positive for bird flu. A U.N. official said tests confirmed an outbreak of the deadly H5N1 strain that has swept out of Southeast Asia into Europe, the Middle East and Africa.

Egypt's health ministry was preparing to declare a state of emergency, the government said.

The French agriculture ministry said Friday that it found the nation's "probable" first case of H5N1 bird flu virus in a dead wild duck. The ministry said tests confirmed that the duck found in the southeast Ain region had H5 bird flu and that it was thought to be the deadly N1 strain. Further tests were being conducted, the ministry said.

Bird flu has killed 91 people in Turkey and in Asia since 2003, with most victims infected directly by sick birds, according to the World Health Organization. Scientists fear the H5N1 virus could mutate to a form that's more easily passed between humans and spark a human flu pandemic.

Egypt is the largest Arab country and its population - which often lives in cramped conditions - depends heavily on chickens and turkeys for food. Millions of Egyptians keep chickens in gardens and rooftop coops.

Germany confirmed 10 more cases of avian flu in birds Friday and warned state governments to brace for the disease to spread through the country. The 10 birds found on a northern island had the H5N1 strain, the federal animal health institute said Friday. They followed three previously confirmed cases.

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