A two-year-old Egyptian boy has contracted the bird flu virus and is in critical condition, the state-run news agency quoted the Health Ministry as saying on Sunday, becoming the 56th case in the Arab country.

The Middle East News Agency (MENA) quoted Assistant Health Minister Nasr el-Sayyed as saying the boy, Youssef Abdel-Azim from the province of el-Fayoum in central Egypt, showed symptoms on Wednesday after coming into contact with dead birds.

He was administered the antiviral drug Tamiflu and remains in crticial condition on an artificial ventilator at a hospital in Cairo, Sayyed said, according to the agency.

Egypt is one of the only countries affected by bird flu that does not offer compensation for farmers when poultry is destroyed, which many experts say is the best way to ensure rapid detection of new outbreaks.