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Cablegate: Egypt Avian Influenza: First Case of 2008

VZCZCXYZ2035
RR RUEHWEB

DE RUEHEG #0413 0620756
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 020756Z MAR 08
FM AMEMBASSY CAIRO
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 8361
INFO RUEHZN/ENVIRONMENT SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY COLLECTIVE

UNCLAS CAIRO 000413

SIPDIS

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

STATE FOR NEA/ELA (NAFZIGER)
STATE FOR AIWG (WINN)

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: TBIO KSCA KFLU ECON EAGR PGOV EG
SUBJECT: EGYPT AVIAN INFLUENZA: FIRST CASE OF 2008

REF: A. CAIRO 0021

B. 07 CAIRO 3546

Sensitive but unclassified. Please handle accordingly.

1. (SBU) Summary: Egypt has confirmed its first Human Avian
Influenza (AI) case in 2008: a four-year-old girl from the
Minya governorate who is currently hospitalized in Cairo.
Reacting rapidly and thoroughly, the Ministry of Health and
Population (MOHP) and the Ministry of Agriculture (MOA)
dispatched teams to the area on February 26. Egypt's first AI
case this year comes amid reports from the MOHP and the
MOA about the ongoing challenge of controlling poultry
movement, unsanitary markets and butcher shops, and the
presence of H5N1 virus in farm flocks previously thought to
be vaccinated. Egypt has now reported 44 confirmed cases of
AI -- 19 of them fatal. End summary.

2. (SBU) The girl's symptoms started February 21, but she
was not hospitalized until February 24. Doctors administered
Tamiflu after admission, and then transferred her to Cairo on
February 25. According to Dr. Abdel Nasser, MOHP, the girl,
from the village of El-Sheikh Massoud, El-Edwa district, is
now in moderate condition at Manshyet El-Bakry General
Hospital in Cairo suffering from pneumonia and a collapsed
lung, but her treating physicians expect her to recover.
NAMRU-3 confirms that she was infected with the H5N1 virus.

3. (SBU) MOA's "Rapid Response Team," including an
epidemiologist and two laboratory technicians, collected
samples, conducted interviews, and created a map of the
village. According to their investigation, the girl's family
bought live ducks on or about February 10, and slaughtered
them on February 18. Several families live in the girl's
house; MOHP has over 20 individuals under surveillance. MOA
tested the samples collected and found the H5N1 virus was
present in birds from surrounding households. USAID's Avian
and Pandemic Influenza Technical Team Leader is visiting
Cairo and is actively involved in the response efforts. Dr.
Gavin Macgregor Skinner is encouraged by the joint, rapid
MOHP/MOA response and the strength of the MOA's
epidemiological investigation. Community for Healthy Living
(CHL), a USAID contractor, also sent a team to Minya and will
be conducting an AI awareness campaign over the course of the
next several days. NAMRU-3 is ready to provide on-site
technical assistance, but the GOE has not asked for it at
this point.

4. (SBU) MOHP survey teams continue to encounter
uncontrolled trucking of poultry across the country, as well
as unhygienic open poultry markets and butcher shops. MOA
contacts report surveillance teams are getting better
cooperation from local authorities in recent months and, as a
result, more reliable poultry farm test results. According
to one contact, "We are now testing the right birds." MOA
tests in December and January detected the virus in farm
birds in eight of the twenty two governorates where tests
were conducted. MOA sources report that engaging local
political leaders to address the AI threat remains a
challenge because the politicians believe bird flu in their
areas reflects badly upon them. The Governor of Minya,
however, has been very supportive of the GOE's campaign
against the disease and is cooperating closely with MOHP and
MOA.
RICCIARDONE

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