Egyptian woman flees hospital after H5N1 diagnosis

( RIA Novosti ) - A 23-year-old woman has escaped from a hospital in Egypt after being preliminary diagnosed with a deadly bird flu virus, local media reported on Monday.

The woman was hospitalized last week with high temperature in the town of Tahta in the Upper Egyptian Sohag Governorate. She fled the hospital following the doctors' decision to transfer her to a special clinic.

Of 43 Egyptians infected with bird flu, mostly women and children who contracted the virus after coming into contact with infected poultry, 19 have died, four of them in the past two weeks.

Egyptian health authorities have reported that 10 other patients with bird flu symptoms are currently hospitalized in three governorates - Dakahlia, Gharbia and Sohag.

The first case of the deadly H5N1 bird flu virus was reported in the Middle East country in February 2006.

A total of 216 deaths out of 348 bird flu human cases have been registered worldwide by the World Health Organization (WHO) since 2003.

Although no cases of human-to-human transmission of avian influenza have been reported, scientists fear the virus could mutate into a strain that could pass easily from person to person, causing a global pandemic.

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