First H5N1 bird flu death confirmed by Canada

BY newsdesk  January 8, 2014 at 5:25 PM EST

CDC/ Courtesy of Cynthia Goldsmith; Jacqueline Katz; Sherif R. Zaki
H5N1 viruses, also known as avian flu. Image: CDC/ Courtesy of Cynthia Goldsmith; Jacqueline Katz; Sherif R. Zaki

Canada’s health minister Rona Ambrose confirmed Wednesday the first North American death from avian flu.

A woman from the province of Alberta, Canada fell ill in December on a flight home from China and died Jan. 3 after unsuccessful treatment in an Alberta hospital, CTV reports. Later lab tests determined that the illness was H5N1 — the first human case recorded in North America.

Health officials said the case was isolated and that person-to-person transmission of the avian flu was rare. As of June 2013, the World Health Organization reported 630 cases of the avian flu had been confirmed over 15 countries since 2003, with a total death toll of 375.