msnbc.com news services
updated 3/12/2007 11:20:35 AM ET 2007-03-12T15:20:35

A 4-year-old Egyptian boy has contracted the potentially deadly strain of bird flu, bringing to two dozen the number of people to be diagnosed with the disease since it appeared in the country last year, the Health Ministry said Sunday.

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Separately, a 20-year-old Indonesian woman who is in the hospital in critical condition has been confirmed to be suffering from bird flu, an official at the national bird flu center said on Monday.

The woman from East Java, who is on a respirator in a hospital in Surabaya, had cleaned an area where her neighbor had dumped a lot of dead chickens, Joko Suyono, a data analyst at the center in Jakarta, told Reuters.

In Egypt, Mohammed Mahmoud Ibrahim tested positive for the H5N1 strain of bird flu Saturday, two days after being admitted to the hospital with a fever and cold symptoms, the ministry said in a statement.

Ibrahim, who lives in the Nile delta town of Daqahliya, is receiving medical treatment at Manshiyat Al Bakri children’s hospital in Cairo, the ministry said.

A Health Ministry official said the boy contracted the virus from domestic birds raised by his family. The official spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak to the media.

Thirteen of the 24 Egyptians who have contracted the H5N1 strain since last February have died. Most of the infected have been women or girls, who normally tend to look after chickens and turkeys kept in the backyards of Egyptian homes.

Egypt is on a main route for migratory birds, which are believed to have brought disease from Asia. Indonesia, which has millions of backyard fowl, has had 63 human deaths from bird flu, the highest in the world.

Since it began ravaging Asian poultry farms in late 2003, the H5N1 strain has killed at least 167 people worldwide, according to the World Health Organization. Health officials worldwide worry the strain could mutate into a form that spreads easily from person to person, sparking a pandemic.

The Associated Press and Reuters contributed to this report

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