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Human Bird Flu Deaths in 2006 Exceed Prior Three Years Combined
Bird flu killed three members of a family in Egypt, pushing the number of fatalities worldwide this year to 79, more than reported in the previous three years combined.
The H5N1 virus is known to have infected 261 people in 10 countries in the past three years, killing 157 of them, WHO said yesterday. Last year, 42 fatalities were confirmed, after 32 in 2004 and four in 2003. Six of every 10 reported cases have been fatal and a majority of cases has occurred among children and young adults.
"In the second half of 2006, there was a steep decline in the number of case reports, although similar declines occurred in 2004 and 2005, but were then followed by resurgences," the influenza team at the European Centre for Disease Surveillance and Control in Stockholm wrote in a Dec. 21 report in Eurosurveillance Weekly.