Egypt to launch H5N1 campaign to stop disease's spread

Egypt recently announced plans to initiate a nationwide campaign to stop the spread of H5N1 avian influenza.

Egyptian officials provided scant information concerning the plan's details, but said that the campaign is scheduled to begin in a few weeks as part of a joint effort between the Health Ministry, the Agriculture Ministry and poultry producers, according to

"These measures are just a small part of a more general plan to curb the spread of the virus in our country," Saber Abdel Aziz, a senior official from the state-run General Organization for Veterinary Services, said, reports. "We will also offer incentives to poultry growers to look for signs of illness in their animals, report sick ones, and practice bio-security."

Since 2006, H5N1 has infected 159 people in Egypt and killed 55.

Abdel Aziz hopes new biosecurity prevention measures will halt the spread of H5N1 infections.

The Health Ministry's recent announcement that 2011 set a record for Egyptians deaths caused by avian flu has created anxiety across the country.

"Taking commonsense precautions to prevent the disease from coming onto a farm is a cornerstone of keeping the poultry healthy," Aziz said, according to "But apart from these commonsense precautions, we will give training to poultry farm workers, make basic infection control, and promote the use of personal protective equipment."

Amr Qandeel, the head of preventative medicine at the Health Ministry, attributed the rise in infection rates to the weakening of the government. Since the uprising began a year ago, Egypt has had three different health ministers. With police preoccupied by demonstrations, and sometimes chaos, in the streets, enforcing biosafety has not been a top priority.