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Fatal case of H5N1 Bird Flu hits North America

Health officials in Canada reported on Wednesday that they have seen their first fatal case of H5N1 bird flu, and it is the first fatal case in North America.

Health professionals examine a pigeon for H7N9 at a poultry market  on April 7, 2013.

The individual who became infected abroad started feeling ill on a flight from China.

Health Minister Rona Ambrose has stated that the case is an isolated one, and that there is only a low risk to the public.

Officials are recorded saying that the victim "began to feel ill on a flight to Canada from Beijing" on a Dec. 27th flight. There has been no evidence until now that the infectious virus is circulating in Beijing, and Chinese officials are further investigating it.

It has been reported that the victim only traveled to Beijing and never strayed far from the markets.

World Health Organization meanwhile confirmed that there has been at least 648 lab confirmed cases of human infection in Asia mostly. Out of that 648 a total of 384 were in fact fatal.

With the bird flu viruses infecting humans experts are being especially cautious. It is still thought to be difficult to catch other than making "contact with infected poultry." However, a potential mutation of the virus is feared by scientists. If mutated the infection could spread rapidly across the globe causing nothing short of a pandemic.

The name and sex of the victim is not being released, and at this time there is no information on how he or she contracted the deadly virus. There is also no evidence that anyone else contracted the virus. Family members are being monitored by health care professionals and treated. There are also two travelers who accompanied the victim who have had no signs of the deadly illness.

Dr. Theresa Tam of Health Canada said, "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."

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