January 12, 2009 / 8:00 PM / 10 years ago

Egyptian girl has bird flu, 2nd case this season

CAIRO (Reuters) - An Egyptian girl of 21 months has contracted bird flu and is in hospital in stable condition, a health ministry official said on Monday.

She is the 52nd case among humans in Egypt and the second of this winter season.

The girl, named as Asmaa Mohamed Salah Ismail, showed the first symptoms on Friday and was admitted to a specialist hospital on Saturday, said assistant health minister Nasr el-Sayed, quoted by the state news agency MENA.

The other Egyptian to contract the deadly virus this year, a woman near the southern town of Assiut, died on December 15. From the 52 human cases in Egypt over almost three years, 23 have died, but the number of cases seems to be diminishing.

The girl, from the village of Kerdasa on the western edge of Cairo, had been in contact with infected birds and showed the usual first symptoms — a high temperature, vomiting and diarrhoea, Sayed said.

She is receiving the antiviral drug Tamiflu, which has proven effective against bird flu if treatment starts early.

Since the first case in 2003 there have been 248 human deaths globally from the H5N1 strain of bird flu and at least 394 confirmed cases of infection. Egypt has had more cases than any country outside Asia.

Writing by Jonathan Wright; Editing by Jon Boyle

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