Fatal case of H5N1 bird flu reported in Canada (Update)

by Rob Gillies

Canadian health officials said Wednesday a fatal case of H5N1 bird flu has been reported in Canada, the first such case in North America. The victim was travelling from China when symptoms first appeared.

Health Minister Rona Ambrose said the case, in Alberta, was an isolated one and that the risk to the general public is very low.

Officials said the person began to feel ill on a flight to Canada from Beijing on Dec. 27. They said it was the first case of H5N1 circulating in Beijing and said China looking is looking into it.

"This is the first evidence of this particular virus circulating in Beijing. Chinese authorities are going to be very interested. We've contacted them already," Dr. Gregory Taylor said.

Taylor said the victim only visited Beijing in China. The victim did not travel to a farm or visit markets, he said.

The World Health Organization says that as of mid-December, there had been 648 laboratory-confirmed human cases of H5N1 flu, reported mostly in Asia. Of that total, 384 infections have been fatal.

Experts are cautious when it comes to bird flu viruses infecting humans. They have been closely watching the H5N1 bird flu virus. The virus remains hard to catch with most human infections linked to contact with infected poultry, but scientists fear it could mutate and spread rapidly among people, potentially sparking a pandemic.

Officials declined to release the sex of the victim, who died Jan. 3. They said they don't know how the person contracted the virus.

There is no evidence that anyone else was infected by the victim. Dr. James Talbot, Alberta's chief medical officer of health, said that family members of the victim are being monitored and treated with medication, but noted that there's nothing to indicate they are sick.

"This is not a disease that's transmitted between humans so unless you were in the infected in the area and were in contact with an infected bird you are not going to get this illness," Dr. Theresa Tam of Health Canada said.

5 /5 (1 vote)
add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

China says woman died from bird flu new to humans

Dec 18, 2013

Chinese authorities said Wednesday that a 73-year-old Chinese woman died after being infected with a bird flu strain that had sickened a human for the first time, a development that the World Health Organization called "worrisome."

Recommended for you

Routines most vital in avoiding Ebola infection: WHO

3 hours ago

Meticulously following stringent routines when putting on and removing protective equipment is more important than the kind of gear health care workers use to ward off Ebola infection, the World Health Organization said Friday.

A look at latest Ebola developments

4 hours ago

No African countries are on the United Nations list of contributors to fight Ebola. With few exceptions, African governments and institutions are offering only marginal support as the continent faces its ...

Liberia opens one of largest Ebola treatment centers

4 hours ago

Remembering those who have died in the world's deadliest Ebola outbreak, Liberia's president opened one of the country's largest Ebola treatment centers in Monrovia on Friday amid hopes that the disease is ...

User comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.