9 Jan 2014

Bird flu death confirmed in Canada

7:39 pm on 9 January 2014

Health officials in Canada have confirmed the first known human death in North America caused by the H5N1 bird flu strain.

Health Minister Rona Ambrose said it was an isolated case and the person who died was a resident of Alberta who had recently travelled to China.

The victim began to feel ill while on a plane travelling from Beijing to Canada. They were later admitted to hospital in the province of Alberta, where they died on 3 January, the BBC reports.

Canadian health officials didn't disclose details of the person's age or sex to protect the family's privacy.

They did, however, emphasise that the risk to the general public is extremely low, as the virus is normally only spread through contact with infected birds.

Officials said they are in contact with Chinese authorities who are looking into how the person may have contracted the flu.