Egypt facing swine flu outbreak

The H1N1 swine flu virus has infected 1,172 people in Egypt with 56 deaths since October 8, despite Egyptian efforts to shut schools, stop sick travelers at airports and cull all pigs.

Since the disease was first reported there in June 2009, Reuters reports, there have been 16,373 infections and 281 deaths reports. A total 559 cases of swine flu were detected between December 19 and December 25, English Ahram reports.

This compounds Egypt's flu cases in general, as 115 citizens have been infected with the H5N1 influenza, leading to 37 deaths.

Lab results have shown that the H1N1 virus is spreading at the normal rate for seasonal influenza. The ministry of health has implored patients to seek medical help, especially those who are at high-risk for severe flu infection, including children, the elderly and pregnant women.

Tamiflu, the antiviral medication, is available for free in government hospitals and can also be purchased from private pharmacies.

In 2009, North African countries like Egypt were more closely aligned with the infection pattern in Europe than the pattern found in sub-Saharan Africa. Activity for 2009 H1N1 didn't peak in West Africa until early 2010 while it peaked in the fall of 2009 in countries along the southern Mediterranean coast, like many European countries.