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H5N1: First North American death due to avian flu recorded

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The first death in North America due to the H5N1 avian flu has now been recorded according to Canadian health officials. ABC News reported on Thursday, Jan. 9, 2014, that the death was in Canada and that of a victim traveling from China when the symptoms first developed.

The H5N1 case has said to be one that is isolated and the risk to the general public is very low. The case was discovered in Alberta.

"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.

It was back on Dec. 27, 2013, when the victim began feeling sick on a flight from Beijing to Canada. China is looking into the matter as it is said to be the first case of H5N1 that circulated in Beijing. The victim was said to not have traveled to a farm or visited markets and they only visited Beijing while in China.

The victim died on Jan. 3, 2014, but the sex of that person was not released by health officials. It is not known at this time as to how the person contracted the virus.

As of mid-Dec. 2013, there were 648 laboratory-confirmed human cases of the H5N1 flu. Most of those cases had been reported in Asia. Of the 648 cases, 384 of them were fatal.

Studies have shown that the H5N1 bird flu infected a human directly from a bird and not another human.

"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.

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