Despite media reports that continue to announce new H5N1 cases (suspected & confirmed) almost daily across Egypt, their Ministry of Health has only posted a couple of brief statements on their website over the past two weeks, where they mention only a handful of cases.
If things weren’t confusing enough, these infrequent statements are undated and have occasionally appeared out of chronological order in the long list of announcements on the MOH website, further decreasing their visibility.
Missing from recent statements are the YTD tallies (cases, recoveries, hospitalized, deaths) which had – until late January – been a regular feature.
Yesterday the Cairo Post reported that the number of cases for the year had reached 33, with 11 deaths – which appears to be an outdated number - as 18 days ago the media had already reported 31 cases and 10 deaths (see Egyptian Media Reports Additional H5N1 Cases & Deaths), and we’ve seen perhaps 20 additional cases reported in the media since then.
Doing her best to keep track of MOH statements, local Health Ministry announcements, FAO reports, WHO summaries, and credible press reports is Sharon Sanders whose FluTrackers 2015 Global WHO & Ministries of Health Confirmed H5N1 Human Cases List shows (as of yesterday) 53 cases, and at least 17 deaths since the first of the year.
Lending credence to the FluTracker’s count we have two other reports:
- On January 6th (updated in Feb.) the World Health Organization released their end-of-year H5N1 case summary, which showed 30 cases reported in Egypt in 2014, resulting in a grand total of 203 cases since 2006.
Reformatted list from WHO
- Last Friday (see An H9N2 Infection In Egypt & Updated H5N1 Count – FAO/EMPRES) we saw an FAO document which announced 73 cases since November 1st, 2014, and a grand total of 254 confirmed cases, and 93 fatalities listed for Egypt.
An apparent increase of 52 cases and 21 deaths over the January 6th numbers posted by WHO.
There are, admittedly gaps and discrepancies in all of these reports, and even the best surveillance system will inevitably miss some cases. So I wouldn’t suggest taking any of these tallies to the bank.
But the FluTrackers and FAO numbers are probably closer to reality than the barely rising tallies reported by the press. Frankly, it shouldn’t require these sorts of daily mathematical gymnastics to come up with a case count for an outbreak as important as this is.
While its probative value may be limited, I’ve reproduced the latest MOH statement (posted overnight), which lists 3 `new’ H5N1 cases (all of which appear to be already captured on FluTracker’s list) .
The Ministry of health and population of infection 3 confirmed بڤيروس H5N1 (bird flu), they are:-two-year-old boy, from the Lake, is still under treatment in hospital, the second case in Damanhour fevers of 39-year-old man, from the Eastern Province, and is still under treatment in hospital Central, and Jacksonville the third man, a 42-year-old from Cairo, is still under treatment in hospital, fevers of Helwan.
It also announces the exit, heal two two of the two-year old child of Suez, and the second case of a 42-year-old from Asyut province.
It also announces the death of a confirmed case of bird flu and 35-year-old man from Cairo.
Therefore calls upon the Ministry of health and population of citizens who handle poultry to go immediately to the nearest hospital to receive health service if they have flu symptoms since receiving infected of bird flu drug Tamiflu within the first 24 hours of the onset of symptoms increases the healing rates of disease and reduces mortality, the Health Ministry advised people who deal with poultry to be careful and prudent when dealing with birds that show symptoms of the disease and the need to take preventive action to prevent such infection Cover your mouth and nose when handling poultry, wash hands with SOAP and water after handling birds and children not accompany poultry or slaughter premises as well as the need to separate from living birds.
Source: Media Center
Although we are clearly seeing the biggest ongoing outbreak of human H5N1 cases in a decade, thus far we’ve seen no evidence that the virus is transmitting any differently than it has in the past.
Human-to-human transmission remains rare, and the biggest risk remains direct contact with infected birds.