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Bird flu kills third Egyptian

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CAIRO, Apr 6 (Reuters) An Egyptian girl died from bird flu today, taking to three the country's human death toll from the virus, the official MENA news agency reported.

The latest death was a 16-year-old girl from a province north of Cairo, who was admitted to hospital yesterday.

''Iman Mohamed Abdel Gawad, a 16-year-old girl from Monoufiya, died after being infected by bird flu,'' MENA said, quoting official information.

Late yesterday the health minister said a 16-year-old girl from the same province had been admitted to hospital with bird flu after handling dead birds, taking to 11 the number of people the Egyptian government says have caught the virus.

The World Health Organisation has so far confirmed four of those cases as the H5N1 strain of the bird flu virus, including the previous two people who died.

The avian flu virus has so far not been transmitted from human to human, but can be caught from infected birds.

The disease, which has killed at least 108 people worldwide, was first detected in birds in Egypt in February and has since devastated the poultry industry.

The government has banned the domestic rearing of fowl, but many Egyptians ignore the ban because they are too poor to slaughter their birds.

Although difficult for humans to catch, scientists fear bird flu could mutate into a form that can pass easily between humans, causing a pandemic.

REUTERS OM KP1607

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