July 19, 2009 / 8:05 PM / 11 years ago

Egyptian dies of H1N1 flu after umra pilgrimmage

CAIRO, July 19 (Reuters) - An Egyptian woman has died of the new H1N1 flu virus after falling ill while on a Muslim religious pilgrimage to Saudi Arabia, an Egyptian health ministry official said on Sunday.

The official said the woman, who suffered from a pre-existing heart ailment due to rheumatic fever, had travelled to Saudi Arabia for the minor umra pilgrimage in early July, and developed flu symptoms on July 11.

She was treated in Saudi Arabia but did not respond to treatment, and returned to Egypt at the request of her husband. She was in her twenties.

"Results confirmed she is H1N1 positive. She died yesterday," Amr Kandeel, head of communicable disease control at the health ministry, told Reuters. He added that she was the first Egyptian to die from the virus.

H1N1 has been detected in some 130 people in Egypt, including 10 fresh cases reported on Sunday, state news agency MENA reported.

Around three million Muslim pilgrims from over 160 countries head for the holy city of Mecca in western Saudi Arabia each year in one of the world’s biggest religious gatherings. The haj season starts in November this year.

The airborne H1N1 virus has now been diagnosed in tens of thousands of people worldwide, and has killed more than 430 people, according to the World Health Organisation. (Writing by Cynthia Johnston; Editing by Jon Boyle)

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