We’ve an update today from the World Health Organization’s EMRO division, which is current through March 31st, 2015, that shows 159 H5N1 cases and 49 deaths since this outbreak began in early November of 2014.
In the first 3 months of the year there have been 125 cases and 33 deaths reported, which is more than triple Egypt’s previous highest one-year total.
This infographic provides an overview of the H5N1 situation in Egypt as of 9 April 2015. Click here to view.
08 April 2015 - The Ministry of Health and Population of Egypt has notified WHO of additional laboratory-confirmed human cases of avian influenza A(H5N1) during the last few weeks. With this additional number, the total number of cases reported during the month of March 2015 now stands at 30 cases, including 4 deaths. This increase in reported human cases has been observed since the beginning of November last year.
Since its introduction in Egypt in 2006, avian influenza A(H5N1) virus has been circulating in domestic poultry in the country and has been the source of sporadic human infections. Almost all cases of H5N1 infection reported in humans in recent times have been associated with close contact with infected live or dead birds, or H5N1-contaminated environments. Though the number of cases reported is higher compared to last year, the increase in the number of cases does not change current risk status of avian influenza A(H5N1) virus that is currently circulating at the animal-human interface in the country.
Since it was first reported in March 2006, a total of 336 cases of avian influenza A(H5N1) infections in humans have been reported, including 114 related deaths (case-fatality rate =34%)
Last week, in Eurosurveillance: Emergence Of A Novel Cluster of H5N1 Clade 184.108.40.206, we looked at a study that found a new strain of H5N1 has emerged in Egypt and has rapidly become the predominant strain in poultry, and that suggested that genetic changes in this strain may be making it more easily transmitted from birds to humans.
Whether due to genetic changes to the virus, or simply due to a greater prevalence in Egyptian poultry, this outbreak has reached historic, and unprecedented levels.
And when you add in the recent emergence of H5N8, H5N6, H5N3 in Asia and novel reassortants of H5N2 and H5N1 in North America, it is easy to understand why the World Health Organization recently released a pointed warning that H5 Is Currently The Most Obvious Avian Flu Threat.