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With high-tech system, Egypt hopes to avoid possible pandemic

H5N1, also known as avian influenza or bird flu, has apparently found a perfect environment to thrive in Egypt. Since the initial onset of the virus back in 2006, new outbreaks of the flu have occurred every single year, making Egypt one of the world’s few endemic countries for the virus, along with Indonesia and Peru. The government, taking the threat of a pandemic seriously, has launched annual vaccination campaigns to mitigate the number of fatalities in Egypt, which made up 55 of the 159 total reported cases according to the World Health Organization.

The amount of data collected by Egyptian veterinary services and bird flu specialists on the ground since 2006 is massive, yet these scientists lack proper technology that could track the virus and identify areas where the virus could potentially strike again.

Three specialists from the University of California at Los Angeles (UCLA) conducted a three-day workshop this week to familiarize Egypt’s leading researchers, vets and ecologists with Geographic Information System (GIS), a system designed to capture, manipulate, analyze, merge and present all kinds of geographically referenced data to track the bird flu virus across the country. GIS merges cartography, statistical analysis and database technology and has proven extremely useful in fighting epidemics and pandemics worldwide, giving precious help to epidemiologists who specialize in tracking viruses.

To read the full story in the Egypt Independent click here.