BEIJING - A Chinese woman has died from bird flu in a Beijing hospital after contracting the disease last month, the government said Tuesday.

The Ministry of Health said Huang Yanqing, 19, died Monday. The official Xinhua News Agency said Huang became ill after buying and cleaning nine ducks in December at a market in Hebei province, which borders Beijing.

The ministry said tests showed Huang had the H5N1 bird flu virus.

Xinhua quoted the Beijing Health Bureau as saying 116 people had been in close contact with Huang. One nurse fell ill with a fever but has since recovered, the report said.

The ministry said it reported the case to the World Health Organization. A spokeswoman for the organization in Beijing said Tuesday that it did not have any further details.

In northern Vietnam, meanwhile, an 8-year-old girl has tested positive for the disease - the first human case reported in the country in nearly a year, health officials said Tuesday.

The girl from Thanh Hoa province was admitted to a hospital on Dec. 27 with a high fever and other symptoms after eating a sick goose raised by the family, said Nguyen Ngoc Thanh, acting director of the provincial health department. Thanh Hoa is 160 kilometres south of Hanoi. The girl is recovering.

Nguyen Huy Nga, director of the Preventive Medicine Department at the Ministry of Health, said the girl tested positive for the H5N1 virus.

Bird flu has killed 247 people since 2003, according to WHO, including 20 in China and 52 in Vietnam.

The H5N1 bird flu virus continues to devastate poultry stocks around the world, and officials worry the virus could mutate into a much-feared form that could spread easily among people. It remains hard for people to catch, with most human cases linked to contact with infected birds.

China, which raises more poultry than any other country, has vowed to aggressively fight the virus.

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