Authorities try to contain bird flu

The potentially deadly H5N1 virus continues its worldwide spread.

    Five-year old Mohamed Ahmed Soliman is the youngest person in Egypt to contract the virus

    He said: "Illnesses or people suspected to be ill have not been found."
    The cases were reported on two private farms within 50km of Moscow, Russia's capital.
    This is the second bird flu outbreak to be recorded in Russia after the virus was previously found in poultry plants in Russia's Krasnodar region in 2005.
    The outbreak was confirmed as the Asian form of the H5N1 virus by officials on Saturday, considered deadly because it caused the first known human fatality in Hong Kong in 1997 and reappeared in China in 2003.

    Keeping birds at home is considered an Egyptian
    tradition in both urban and rural areas

    In Egypt, five-year old Mohamed Ahmed Soliman is the youngest sufferer and the 22nd person in the country to contract the virus.
    He contracted the virus at home where his family keeps chickens, ducks and geese. But doctors say so far he's responding well to treatment.
    Yossri Ragab, a doctor at Mansheyat Al-Bakry Hospital in Cairo, told Al Jazeera: "In severe cases like his, we use lots of antibiotics to prevent any minor microbic infections in the chest. He's better now."
    The Egyptian government ensures farmers vaccinate their birds when they are one day old but the virus has still claimed 13 lives since the first cases were reported in Egypt in late 2004.
    Most of those who have died kept birds at home, considered an Egyptian tradition in both urban and rural areas.
    The practice has been banned by the government but the restriction is largely ignored by the public.
    Amr El-Kahky, Al Jazeera's correspondent in Egypt, said: "It will take more than talk and awareness campaigns to convince people to get rid of the birds they keep. For many Egyptians living in poverty the birds are their only source of food and at the same time their greatest threat."
    The H5N1 virus has caused 270 reported human infections worldwide since 2003 and as of last month had killed 164.

    SOURCE: Al Jazeera and agencies


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