A young Egyptian woman has died of bird flu, becoming the 20th victim of the deadly virus in Egypt over the past two years, the health ministry announced on Tuesday.
Suzanne Ali Salah, 25, from Faiyum, southwest of Cairo, died in a Giza hospital in the suburbs of the capital where she was admitted on February 27.
She was the 44th case of the H5N1 bird flu virus reported in Egypt since the first outbreak was announced in February 2006.
Salah had been treated unsuccessfully with Tamiflu. Family and friends have been examined for the virus and the tests proved negative, the ministry said.
Four people died at the start of 2008, with no fatalities having been reported over the previous six months.
Women and children have borne the brunt of the virus due to their role in taking care of domestic fowl in Egypt, a major route for migrating birds.
Since H5N1 appeared in Egypt, the north African country has become one of the most affected countries in the world.
According to the UN Food and Agricultural Organisation, Egypt and Indonesia are the countries most likely to see the virus mutate into a form that is contagious among humans, because of people's close contact with poultry.
The health ministry has called for heightened vigilance, saying preventative measures were not being implemented against the disease because of "a conviction that the virus has gone".
According to the World Organisation for Animal Health, the highly infectious strain of the H5N1 avian flu virus can be eradicated if it is dealt with effectively in Egypt, Indonesia and Nigeria, where it has become endemic.
More than 230 people have died of bird flu worldwide, according to the WHO, with Indonesia accounting for 105 deaths, followed by Vietnam where 51 people have died of the disease.