Seven human cases of H5N1 infection confirmed in Azerbaijan, and one case in Egypt
Seven human cases of infection with highly pathogenic avian influenza A(H5N1) in Azerbaijan have now been confirmed by the World Health Organization (WHO) influenza reference laboratory in the United Kingdom. Five of these have been fatal. Six of the patients lived in the Salyan region in southeast Azerbaijan, in the small settlement of Daikyand, which consists of about 800 homes .
There is some suspicion that the cases are linked to the plucking of feathers from dead but unburied swans. This is a task traditionally undertaken by young women in Azerbaijan and may account for the majority of these human cases being in young women. There is ongoing house-to-house surveillance for cases of influenza-like illness.
Avian influenza in birds was first officially detected in Azerbaijan on 24 February 2006. Affected birds include poultry. Measures to control and eliminate the infections in farmed birds are being applied 
One fatal case of human A (H5N1) infection has been confirmed in Egypt, according to the Egyptian Ministry of Health . The patient was a 30 year old woman living near Cairo. She had had close contact with diseased poultry. Samples have been sent to the WHO reference laboratory for confirmation.
Egypt confirmed its first H5N1 outbreak in poultry on 17 February, and the virus has now been detected in 18 of the country’s 26 governorates.
As of 21 March 2006, the worldwide total of confirmed human cases since 2003 is 184, with 103 deaths .
For more information about avian influenza infections and the risk to human health in Europe, see http://www.ecdc.europa.eu/influenza/update_influenza.php