Women have a greater risk of contracting avian flu

Published: Wednesday 31 January 2007

Women are more at risk of contracting avian flu than men, states the Egyptian health ministry. The statement came after an appraisal of the gender ratio of avian flu infected people in the country. Most avian flu deaths in the country were found to be among women and a total of 8 deaths were reported by December 2006. On January 3, 2007, three more deaths were reported, of which two were women.

Hamdi Abdel Wahed, a media official with the health ministry, says, this may be because "women in the countryside traditionally look after domestic birds like hens and ducks, which are most likely to be infected with bird flu". A woman who died in December was frightened of admitting that she had been rearing ducks at home, said Wahed. "This indicates she knew of the risk, but did not know its gravity."

Most infections and deaths were among people who reared birds domestically. To contain the infection, the government banned domestic poultry rearing in urban areas.The ban could not be imposed in rural areas where domestic breeding brings income as it may lead to people concealing the birds, thus heightening the danger.

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