Canada Reports First Case in North America of H5N1 Flu

Canada reported the first case in North America of a form of bird flu that has killed hundreds of people over the past decade.

The individual had traveled to China in December and was admitted to hospital Jan. 1 before dying Jan. 3, Alberta Health Minister Fred Horne said in a statement. No more cases are expected in Alberta because of the rare nature of the flu and the precautions taken by authorities, Horne said in the statement.

In 2013, there were 38 world-wide cases of H5N1 avian influenza reported to the World Health Organization, with 24 deaths reported, the Alberta government said.

The risk of human-to-human transmission of this influenza strain is very low, and Canadian authorities have notified their Chinese counterparts, Dr. Gregory Taylor, Canada’s deputy chief public health officer, said in a televised press conference in Ottawa.

The individual had flown from Beijing to Edmonton, Alberta, with a stopover in Vancouver, Taylor said. Passengers on the planes are being notified to reassure them that the risk of transmission is very low, he said.

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