Nineteen new swine flu cases in Egypt

The Ministry of Health announced 19 new swine flu cases bringing the total number of infections in Egypt to 1,145 cases. Meanwhile, approximately 5,000 people have died from the flu worldwide.

The new cases include four students from the Saint Claire School in Heliopolis, the Aqqad School in Sayeda Zeinab, the Hussein School in Gammaliyya and the Ibn el-Nafees School in Nasr City, said Amr Qandil, deputy health minister for preventative medicine. Two other cases were discovered in the Faculty of Commerce at Ain Shams University and the Faculty of Commerce at Helwan University.

In addition, six new cases were found among Egyptians, one of whom was returning from Saudi Arabia, and seven among English people coming from England, said Qandil, adding that all the patients receiving treatment are stable.

The number of fatal swine flu cases has risen since the virus was first detected in April. Today, the total number of deaths has reached approximately 5,000 cases, with over 3,500 of these deaths occurring in the United States, said the World Health Organization (WHO).

Meanwhile, doctors warned that the H1N1 virus could mutate into an airborne virus in the upcoming winter season. Some people have contracted the flu without coming into contact with flu patients, suggesting that masks do not prevent the spread of the disease.

Around ten per cent of Egyptians currently have the common flu, while one in every thousand citizens have swine flu, said Dr. Magdi Badran, a member of the Egyptian Society of Allergy and Clinical Immunology.

Many people falsely believe that the infection is restricted to those who come into direct contact with a flu case; however, touching a surface contaminated with the virus can also cause infection. Statistics show that children touch their faces 80 times and hour and adults 16 times an hour. Since Egyptian immune systems are generally not very strong, the solution is to raise public awareness on the importance of hand washing.

There is no reason for such a level of fear among Egyptian citizens, said Dr. Ashraf Omar, professor of digestive, liver and endemic diseases in the Faculty of Medicine at Cairo University. It is too early to say whether the virus has mutated into an airborne pathogen, he said, adding that we will not know if this is the case until the winter season begins. The individuals who indirectly contracted the flu may have been in contact with infected patients without knowing it.

The possibility of the virus surviving longer in a closed space is much greater in the winter, said Dr. Ibrahim Abdel Monem, professor of internal and parasitical diseases in the Faculty of Medicine at Banha University. There are two types of viruses, he added. The first causes the common cold and is usually contracted through subjection to varying temperatures, he clarified, while the second is the influenza virus which spreads through contact with an infected patient.

Translated from the Arabic Edition.

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