• June 23, 2009

Dr.Mahmoud Ezzat in an Interview about Facing Plague

Dr.Mahmoud Ezzat in an Interview about Facing Plague


-We Urge people not to panic and demand government to assess seriousness of crisis

-The microbe can easily be confronted by taking antibiotics at the onset of disease

-key symptoms are high temperature, fatigue, trembling, arthritis pains lost consciousness.

-The Muslim Brotherhood moved in three dimensions to overcome the crisis

– The Muslim Brotherhood parliamentary bloc and Muslim Sisters have key role in creating people”s awareness

– We urge mass media to be accurate and not to cause havoc by spreading news about the disease

A state of panic hit the Egyptian streets after devastating reports that the eastern Libyan city of Tobruk is facing plague. The plague has claimed more than twenty lives while dozens are suffering from this deathly microbe in Tobruk which lies less than 80 kilometres from the Egyptian border…

Sources from the Libyan press reveal that the disease was discovered long after its breakout where a number of citizens were infected in two close regions twenty kilometers south of Tobruk.  This remained strictly classified by the Libyan authorities.

There have been conflicting reports as to the cause of the outbreak, death toll and the actual number of infected cases. While Libyan health authorities claim that its outbreak is related to the spread of rodents and insects (especially fleas) other sources confirm that the disease had emerged two months earlier south of Tobruk where it was diagnosed as a “mystery disease”.

Amidst fears of the swine flu facing the world and reports declaring it a pandemic together with the bird flu, a state of panic has devastated the Egyptian public. This coincides with the start of the summer season where the majority of the poor and middle Egyptian class travels to Matrouh city.

Ikhwanweb met with Dr. Mahmoud Ezzat, the Secretary-General of the Muslim Brotherhood group and a professor of Microbiology and immunology at the Faculty of Medicine, Zagazig University. He is a specialist in infections diseases and he has many researches in epidemic diseases in Egypt, including meningitis and cholera, to learn more about plaque (the Black Death).

Ikhwanweb: First of all, what does plague mean, and how far it is serious?

Dr Ezzat: Firstly, I”d like to assure the Egyptian people that just like any infectious disease where frightening images come to our minds its effects can be controlled in shaa Allah if confronted with strict preventive measures and using aprobriat antimicrobial agents. As for the plague it is an infectious bacterial disease shared by humans and animals alike. It is listed as a serious disease that may cause a pandemic if not contained.

It was reported that The Egyptian population was affected by it in 1346 where the population decreased from 8 million to 3 million. Plague reached its peak in the period 1347 AD – 1349 AD where in Cairo alone 200,000 out of the 500,000 population died.


Ikhwanweb: What is the microbe that causes the plague?

Dr. Ezzat: It is a kind of Yersinia pestis bacteria whose incubation period is 15 – 67 days in Septicemia and Bubonic plagues and 2 – 4 days in the pneumonic plague.

A microbe or a virus

Ikhwanweb: What is the difference between the microbe and the virus and which is more deadly?

Dr. Ezzat: It is known scientifically that bacteria are usually more sensitive than the virus when treated by antibiotics. Also, an effective vaccine can be easily made to protect against bacteria, contrary to the virus which frequently change their structure take for example what happens in the crisis of bird flu and swine flu.

Kinds of the plague

Ikhwanweb: What are the sources of infection of the microbe, how does the infection happen, what are its kinds and what are its symptoms?

Dr. Ezzat: The plague is divided into three kinds which are different in regards to infection:

First: Bubonic plague: It is the most common kind of plague and it is carried by rodents like mice and rats which are considered the natural reservoir of this disease, as these rats and mice die fleas carry the microbe and transfer it from bodies of the dead rodents attacking the human body and feeding on its blood, the patient then faces acute inflammations and painful swellings in the lymphatic glands close to the flea bite.

Second: The pneumonic plague: This is the most serious plague as it is easily transferred and spread among those in contact with the patient, especially in unhealthy climatic conditions and environments as it moves from the wastes of the ill person to persons and with weak Respiratory system. This kind is accompanied by abundant coughing and sputum, other general symptoms of the disease; include high temperature, severe fatigue, shivering, pains in muscles and joints, nausea, sore throat, mental disorders and coma.

Third: The Septicemic plague which resembles the Bubonic plague in the way of infection as comes from fleas that take it from rodents to the humans. This kind mostly happens as complications of the two previous kinds- the Bubonic and the pneumonic plagues. It is marked by an acute rise in temperature, acute heart failure, and it also causes blood poisoning, and causes failure in body systems in addition to other general symptoms of the disease.

Preventative measures

Ikhwanweb: Is there an effective treatment for the plague”s microbe?

Dr. Ezzat: Plague is currently treated with antibiotics, and there are good chances for success in the case of the early detection of the disease. Streptomycin, Kloramfenikol and Tetracycline can be used Streptomycin can be taken through intramuscular injections only, while Kloramfenikol is effective but it has side effects, also vaccination measures must be carried out under medical supervision.

Ikhwanweb: What are the medical and preventative measures that must be followed to deal with the plague microbe?

Dr. Ezzat: First of all, general preventive measures must be taken by competent health authorities to fight rodents and fleas. Also, patients must be quarantined in special places in hospitals until they fully recover. The patient”s secretions must be cleansed, his belongings must be destroyed by burning and the patient”s instruments should be sterilized with boiling water or steamed under high pressure. Also, the patient”s room must be cleaned very well after he recovers.

Ikhwanweb: Are there any measures to take with those contacting the patient?

Dr. Ezzat: Firstly, anyone contacting and mixing with the patients must be examined and blood samples taken and tested. Also, they must be vaccinated. In case of the pneumonic plague, all those contacting the patient must be quarantined for ten days. As for cases of Septicemia and Bubonic plagues, the cases must observe for ten days for any signs or symptoms of the disease.

Biological leaks

Ikhwanweb: The media leaked reports that the microbe emerged as a result of Libya”s bad conduct in getting rid of its biological weapons when it decided to establish new relations with the West, to how extent is this true?

Dr. Ezzat: The reports about a microbe”s exposure to genetic changes in a bid to be used a biological weapon is a serious matter which needs confirmation because this disease mainly comes from rodents, and the claim that it comes from biological weapons is a rumour that we shouldn”t take part in spreading unless there is a reassessment of the situation and after full and  immediate examinations on residents of the regions close to borders with Libya especially Egyptian merchants and tribes which have connections in Libya. It is worth mentioning that there is a WHO medical delegation whose task is to investigate the source of the infection and we are waiting for the result of the investigations.

Ikhwanweb: We are now at the beginning of the summer holiday season and Marsa Matrouh resort- very close to Libyan borders- is one of the most important places that attracts many Egyptians, is there any specific advice?

Dr. Ezzat: Firstly we call on them to be calm and not panic.

Second: We urge them to cautiously follow medical and health measures.

Third: To Resort to medical centers and hospitals in case of any of the symptoms of the microbe emerging.

Ikhwanweb: What are the measures taken by the movement to contain this health and environmental crisis?

Dr. Ezzat: When we knew of the infections and deaths due to the microbe, we divided our efforts on three levels.

Firstly, we contacted a number of veterinarians who specialized in common diseases and public health doctors to know the health and environmental situation in a clearer way and to know facts and to get a more accurate description of the infected cases.

The second level is related to the World Health Organization which is supposed to report any infections caused by epidemics to take specific health measures according to international agreements with the destination of the infection and warning countries surrounding the place of the outbreak, especially that the animal carrying the disease is a land animal.

The third axis: Through the members of the Muslim Brotherhood parliamentary bloc, who had moved before the decision of ending the current parliamentary session by offering a large number of urgent statements and written questions, urging the Ministry of Health to move to save the critical environmental and health situation on borders. In response, the Ministry of Health that took some urgent preventative measures in all civilian and military hospitals in both the Alexandria and Marsa Matrouh governorates, in addition to sending two medical teams to Sallum.

Ikhwanweb: Is there any specific role the Muslim Brotherhood can carry out in such issues?

Dr. Ezzat: Definitely, because our role is not restricted to warnings but exceeds more than this. The MB parliamentary bloc members carry out awareness campaigns among residents of their constituencies in addition to awareness messages in mosques and in private and public institutions. Also, the Muslim Brotherhood”s female members play a considerable role in such crisis because the social awareness through the media is extremely

Important to protect from virus and microbe infections

It should be noted that the Egyptian Doctors Syndicate Will be held tomorrow, a symposium on the plague In order to stand on the latest developments of the epidemic.

Muslim brotherhood Medical and veterinary doctors will actively participate this symposium.