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Viewing cable 10CAIRO338, Egypt: H5N1 Update - February 2010

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Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
10CAIRO338 2010-02-21 14:02 2011-01-28 00:12 UNCLASSIFIED//FOR OFFICIAL USE ONLY Embassy Cairo
VZCZCXRO8929
RR RUEHAST RUEHDH RUEHHM RUEHLN RUEHMA RUEHPB RUEHPOD RUEHSL RUEHTRO
DE RUEHEG #0338 0521415
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 211411Z FEB 10 ZFF6
FM AMEMBASSY CAIRO
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 0343
INFO ENVIRONMENT SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY COLLECTIVE
RUEHPH/CDC ATLANTA GA
UNCLAS CAIRO 000338 
 
SENSITIVE 
SIPDIS 
DEPT FOR NEA/ELA 
DEPT FOR OES/IHB 
 
E.O. 12958: N/A 
TAGS: TBIO KFLU PGOV EAGR EAID EG
SUBJECT: Egypt: H5N1 Update - February 2010 
 
1. (SBU) Key Points 
 
--Egypt's Ministry of Health (MoH) has confirmed 12 human cases of 
H5N1 (avian influenza) in 2010, with three fatalities. 
 
--In the wake of efforts to combat H1N1 (swine flu), MoH will 
increase its public awareness H5N1 influenza programs for health 
care providers to ensure they remain vigilant in detecting avian 
influenza. 
 
--MoH is exploring the possibility of testing deceased H1N1 (swine 
flu) cases for the H5N1 virus. 
 
2. (SBU) Ministry of Health (MoH) Executive Director for Disease 
Surveillance Dr. Samir Refaey told ESTH officer on February 10 that 
Egypt has confirmed 10 H5N1 human cases this year - four in January 
and six so far in for February (two more cases were announced on 
February 20, bringing the current total to 12 cases).  The most 
recent avian influenza fatality occurred on February 10th, the 
third for 2010.  Noting the recent spate of H5N1 cases, he pointed 
out that during the same time frame in 2009 (January and February), 
Egypt reported 17 avian influenza cases and that the MoH expected 
the increase for the winter season.  Egypt is the only country to 
have confirmed human H5N1 cases in 2010. 
 
3. (SBU) Refaey expressed concern with the increasing amount of 
time taking avian influenza patients to seek treatment in hospitals 
after the onset of virus-like symptoms (the majority of this year's 
cases have taken more than four days from the beginning of symptoms 
to hospitalization).  He speculated that following the intense 
focus on H1N1 throughout most of 2009, many private care facilities 
- where H5N1 patients initially visit - were not screening for 
avian influenza.  MoH also suspects that patients have not been 
forthcoming in discussing their medical history, especially about 
their exposure to poultry - an automatic indicator to check for the 
avian influenza virus.  In response to ESTH officer's inquiry about 
the growing number of adults contracting the virus this year 
(compared to 2009, when children 0-10 years old were the main 
victims), Refaey stated the MoH was aware of this development but 
did not have any definitive answer at this point. Refaey admitted 
that for many health care providers, H1N1 may have supplanted H5N1 
as the most worrisome influenza strain circulating across the 
country. 
 
4. (SBU) To respond to the growing number of H5N1 cases, MoH plans 
to revitalize its public awareness programs for health care 
providers - doctors, nurses, technicians - to ensure they quickly 
identify and treat avian influenza cases.  Refaey asserted that 
surveillance and detection programs may have grown "fatigued" from 
battling H1N1 but MoH would redistribute information and lead 
training sessions to re-emphasize H5N1's status as a national 
priority.  He also highlighted a recently announced MoH plan to 
test all severe cases of pneumonia in rural areas - where many H5N1 
cases emerge - for both H1N1 and H5N1. Pneumonia is a respiratory 
condition that normally afflicts H5N1 patients.  Increased testing 
for pneumonia may lead to improved detection for avian influenza 
cases. 
 
5. (SBU) Egypt has confirmed approximately 270 H1N1 deaths since 
the virus first appeared last year in 2009.  Refaey stated that MoH 
plans to begin testing all of the victims for H5N1 but did not 
provide details as to when this might begin.  The potential 
intermingling of H5N1 and H1N1 is one of MoH's greatest health 
concerns. 
SCOBEY