An Egyptian student died of H5N1 bird flu on Wednesday, raising the death toll to nine cases in Egypt this year, Amr Qandil, preventive medicine department head at the health ministry said.

The 20-year-old female student was infected after coming in contact with birds, the health ministry secretary in Assiut said, adding that she was transferred to the fever hospital before being moved to Assiut University hospital as a result of health deterioration.

A total of 191 patients have been diagnosed with bird flu since its outbreak in Egypt in 2006, 72 of whom have died.

Hossam Abdel Ghaffar, health ministry spokesman, said on December 1 that despite the increase in the rate of deaths from the disease this year, over 50 percent of those infected, the rate of infection is in decline.

Infection is usually centred in rural areas, where citizens, especially women, frequently come in direct contact with live poultry.

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