Via CBC News: H5N1 bird flu death confirmed in Alberta, 1st in North America. Excerpt and then a comment:
Alberta health officials have confirmed an isolated, fatal case of H5N1 or avian influenza, Health Minister Rona Ambrose said Wednesday.
But officials repeatedly emphasized that there is no risk of transmission between humans.
The infected person, an Alberta resident who recently travelled to Beijing, China, died Jan. 3.
The case was confirmed in a lab test last night. It's the first such case in North America.
The person first showed symptoms of the flu on a Dec. 27 flight from Beijing to Vancouver aboard Air Canada flight 3030. The passenger continued on to Edmonton and was admitted to hospital Jan. 1.
The symptoms worsened and the patient died two days later. The Public Health Agency of Canada was notified Jan. 5.
Risk of getting H5N1 low
The officials added that the patient was otherwise healthy.
There have been fewer than than 650 cases of bird flu in 15 countries over the last decade, primarily among people who have spent time around infected birds, they said.
Officials emphasized that this is not a disease transmitted between humans.
While the authorities are being opaque about details of the case, it does seem to have been a woman. And they are insisting on the isolated nature of the case, very low risk, etc. This is all very true.
But we now know that a case of H5N1 in a chicken or duck went unnoticed in Beijing (or somewhere else in China), and unless this case visited a poultry farm, she probably contracted the disease in a meal. China reported 2 cases of human H5N1 in 2013, both fatal, but I haven't seen a recent report in many months--while the Chinese media are full of stories on H7N9 and now H10N9 as well.
It's remarkable that a visitor should contract the disease. After all, 1.3 billion people live in China, and only 45 have caught H5N1 in the past ten years. You're more likely to win the lottery than contract H5N1 or one of the other avian influenzas.