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Bird Flu - Archives

Middle East

When Chickens and Ducks Start to Wobble
Egypt has problems. Reuters reports:

When Attia Abdel-Hamid Hassan notices the chickens or ducks that he keeps at home in Egypt's Nile Delta starting to wobble on their feet, he puts them in a sack and drowns them in an irrigation canal.

His neighbours, afraid of catching the deadly bird flu virus that has so far killed 13 Egyptians, do the same.

That is how residents in the red-brick farming hamlet of Ezbet Sidi Omar, 40 km (25 miles) north of Cairo, are trying to protect themselves from avian influenza in Egypt, which has the largest number of confirmed human cases outside of Asia.

Health officials say the cultural practice of keeping birds at home, often in secret, is aiding the spread of bird flu in the most populous Arab country, where 24 people have contracted the disease since it emerged in Egyptian poultry a year ago.

Things aren't getting better. Read the whole story.
March 14th, 2007


While the bird flu experts were focussed on South Korea and Vietnam, the disease has struck in Egypt. Two people have died this month - bringing the death toll in the country to nine this year - and others are infected.
December 26th, 2006


Israel and Palestine - Fighting the Common Enemy
It's always good to read stories like this:

Israelis and Palestinians have found a 'common enemy' to fight - avian flu. Last week, four veterinarians from Gaza spent five days at The Israeli Agriculture Ministry's Division of Avian Diseases laboratories near Tel Aviv, studying techniques for diagnosing and dealing with avian flu.

..."Geographical borders mean nothing to diseases, and birds," said Israeli lab head Dr. Shimon Perk who led the Palestinian delegation in their training. "I'm not a politician, but neither is this disease. It doesn't differentiate between Palestinians and Israelis."

...According to Perk, relations between the two sides have, in some cases, gone beyond just the professional sphere. "We also meet at the Erez border crossing (between Israel and the Gaza Strip) for discussions about our work, and we also meet up at conferences around the world."

The latter, naturally, also involve other regional players. "The conferences also provide an opportunity to meet our colleagues from Jordan and Egypt and other countries, and we have regional committee meetings on veterinarian issues too," Perk continues. "Some of us are now close friends. It is certainly a healthy relationship."

December 4th, 2006


Egypt Warning
Egypt's Health Minister, Hatem Al Gabali, fears more human bird flu cases in the coming weeks:

“Bird flu is still present and we will witness new cases this winter. We just hope they won’t be fatal,” he told parliament.

“The population still refrains from informing the authorities when poultry is infected, especially in domestic rearings,” he added.

October 18th, 2006

Uh Oh (Part II)
Another ominous headline:

Egypt detects new human H5N1 bird flu case
October 11th, 2006


More Retrospective Cases
First China, then South Korea report new cases of bird flu that occurred months (or years) ago, but have only just been confirmed.

Now it's Iraq's turn.
September 20th, 2006


Middle East - Getting Better
Reuters carries a very interesting bird flu "situation report" from the Middle East, looking at developments in the leading countries.

Essentially, the news is good. Chicken sales - which plummeted throughout the region earlier in the year, when bird flu was reported in several countries - have recovered in many areas. And preventative measures, including a mass poultry culling in Egypt and quarantining in Iran, seem to have had an effect.

Now, if only something can be done about Asia...
June 17th, 2006


Paranoia in Egypt
Yesterday I reported on the sad case of the Cambodian mother abused by fellow villagers after her daughter died of bird flu. The New York Times has a similar report from Egypt:


Given the choice between the possibility her children would fall ill from bird flu or the certainty they would go hungry if she got rid of the ducks she raised in her home, Hamida Abdullah said there was really no choice at all.

…Telling poor Egyptians in the countryside they cannot raise poultry at home for food and extra income would be like prohibiting Russians from growing vegetables at their dachas. It would cut off not only a crucial source of nutrition, but also a lifestyle that has deep cultural roots.

April 14th, 2006


It's Official
The World Health Organization has confirmed four cases of human infection (not five as I reported yesterday) from bird flu in Egypt, including two deaths. A fifth case is pending.

The WHO announcement notes that nine countries have now experienced confirmed cases of human infection from bird flu since December 2003. Four countries - Turkey, Iraq, Azerbaijan and Egypt - reported their first cases this year.
April 4th, 2006


Egypt – Getting Worse

The Egyptian Health Minister has reported two more cases of people infected with bird flu, bringing the total in the country to eight. (So far the World Health Organization has confirmed only five of the cases, including two deaths.)


And the Egyptian government has blamed a refusal by poultry farmers to follow sanitation instructions for the continuing spread of the disease.
April 3rd, 2006


Bird Flu Probably in Gaza

Palestinian officials believe the bird flu has spread to the Gaza Strip. In what Reuters describes as “a rare show of cooperation,” Israel is conducting the tests for bird flu on behalf of the Palestinian Authority. An Israeli business website reports that gefilte fish sales are rising, in advance of Passover, with poultry demand down.

March 23rd, 2006


Punishment from God, Part II

An Israeli rabbi has blamed the country’s flu outbreak on election campaign ads by left-wing Israeli parties calling for the legalization of gay marriage


“The Bible says that God punishes depravity first through blights on animals, and then on humans,” David Basri, a top kabbalist, was quoted as writing this week in an edict.

March 22nd, 2006


Punishment from God

Yesterday the chairman of the National Jewish Front was quoted as labelling the Israeli bird flu outbreak a punishment from God for Israel’s withdrawal from Gaza and parts of the West Bank.


A Gaza imam apparently agrees. Ynetnews reports:

The bird-flu virus found in Israel last week was sent by Allah to punish the Jews for being "the worst of humanity" and is the beginning of the outbreak of other diseases meant to destroy the Jewish state within the next 20 years, a Gaza preacher said at mosque services this weekend.


Sheikh Abu Muhammed, an imam at the popular Al-Tadwa mosque in Beit Lahia north of Gaza City, went on to ask Muslims at his Friday night sermon to pray for the sexual organs of Jews to "dry out" so they cannot reproduce, a Palestinian in attendance at the mosque services told WorldNetDaily.

March 21st, 2006


Mideast Latest

A woman has died of suspected bird flu in Egypt and a man is being tested for the disease.


Authorities in Israel believe it certain that H5N1 has arrived, and a mass cull of hundreds of thousands of turkeys and chickens has begun. Also in Israel, the chairman of the National Jewish Front has said the bird flu outbreak in the country is punishment from God, after Israel withdrew from the Gaza and parts of the West Bank.


Jordan is on maximum alert.

March 20th, 2006


Israel Braces for the Worst

About 11,000 turkeys have died in Israel and more are being culled. Authorities are waiting for test results, but assume bird flu. Several reports are already labelling it H5N1, and at least one report says three workers are in hospital.

March 18th, 2006


Iraq Update

A team of WHO experts is travelling to Northern Iraq to investigate the bird flu death there of a 15-year-old girl. WHO says that two other cases – including the girl’s uncle, who has also died – are also being investigated. But Reuters reports that 12 people are being investigated as possible sufferers.


NBC reports that “Iraq is on high alert,” but then – confusingly – adds:


The announcement that bird flu has arrived apparently has caused little concern to a populace hardened by years of war and death. Many simply don't believe it. Others, however, are culling their own flocks.


The Pentagon said U.S. troops in Iraq won't be taking additional health precautions, but they will be on the lookout for flulike symptoms. "It's a situation that is being monitored closely," Pentagon spokesman Bryan Whitman said. Whitman said no symptoms of bird flu have been detected among the approximately 138,000 U.S. troops in Iraq.

February 1st, 2006


Iraqi Death – Health Officials Alarmed

A laboratory in Egypt has reportedly confirmed that an Iraqi girl has died of bird flu. If verified by WHO, it will be the first case outside East Asia and Turkey. It is not good news. As the New York Times reports:


The confirmation of the cause of the girl's death also suggests, officials said, that the disease may be spreading widely — and undetected — among birds in the countries of central Asia, which are poorly equipped to identify and report infections. Avian flu has never been reported in birds in Iraq.


As happened in Turkey earlier this month, the spread of the H5N1 strain of bird flu to a new part of the world became evident only through a human death. That is notable, and alarming to health officials, because bird flu rarely infects humans, and usually does so late in the course of an animal outbreak, after close contact with sick birds.

January 31st, 2006


Human Infection in Israel?

Has bird flu hit the Middle East? The Israeli Health Ministry is arranging tests of the blood of a local man who was in hospital last week with flu-like symptoms. He has since recovered.


According to Haaretz:


The Health Ministry reported Tuesday that it was examining suspicions that the Galilee resident, who feeds birds at the nature reserve, had contracted avian flu. A test on saliva taken from his pharynx showed that he did not carry the virus, but on Thursday it was revealed that his blood tests raised suspicions that he had the disease, and had probably contracted a virulent strain of the virus.


To date, the only reported human cases since late-2003 have been in China, Vietnam, Thailand, Cambodia and Indonesia.

November 26th 2005