Egyptian woman dies from H5N1 bird flu after close contact with infected poultry

The death is the second in the country this year from the deadly virus

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A woman in Egypt has died after contracting the deadly H5N1 bird flu virus.

The 19-year-old, who was being treated at a hospital in the central region of Assiut, is believed to have become infected after coming into contact with birds who were carrying the disease.

A spokesperson for the Egyptian health ministry said the death was the second this year to be caused by H5N1.

Previous fears of an epidemic in the virus have led some countries, including Britain, to stockpile vaccines for avian flu.

The death comes hours after the Dutch government's decision to ban the transport of poultry and eggs as fears of a winter outbreak of the disease grow.

Human cases of the disease are so far rare and in its current form it does not appear to be able to transmit easily from human to human.

393 people have died from the disease worldwide since 2003, according to the World Health Organisation, out of a total of 668 laboratory-confirmed cases reported across 16 countries.

Infection usually occurs in people who are exposed to birds carrying the virus.

Egypt's H5N1 cases have tended to occur in impoverished rural areas in the south of the country, where villagers tend to keep and slaughter poultry in their homes.

There have been seven known cases of bird flu in Egypt this year.

One three-year-old child infected with the disease in the country is said by Egyptian authorities to be doing well.