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

January 8, 2014 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.

Explore further: China says woman died from bird flu new to humans

Related Stories

China says woman died from bird flu new to humans

December 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."

WHO says new H7N9 flu passes more easily from bird to human

April 24, 2013

A new strain of bird flu that emerged in China over the past month is one of the "most lethal" flu viruses so far, worrying health officials because it can jump more easily from birds to humans than the one that started killing ...

Cambodian girl dies from bird flu: WHO

April 2, 2012

A six-year-old Cambodian girl has died from bird flu, the World Health Organization said Monday, in the country's second fatality from the virus this year.

Recommended for you

Zika in fetal brain tissue responds to a popular antibiotic

November 30, 2016

Working in the lab, UC San Francisco researchers have identified fetal brain tissue cells that are targeted by the Zika virus and determined that azithromycin, a common antibiotic regarded as safe for use during pregnancy, ...

Zika and glaucoma linked for first time in new study

November 30, 2016

A team of researchers in Brazil and at the Yale School of Public Health has published the first report demonstrating that the Zika virus can cause glaucoma in infants who were exposed to the virus during gestation.

Flu forecasts successful on neighborhood level

November 30, 2016

Scientists at Columbia University's Mailman School of Public Health developed a computer model to predict the onset, duration, and magnitude of influenza outbreaks for New York City boroughs and neighborhoods. They found ...

0 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.