Via the Winnipeg Free Press: World Health Organization wants more info on fatal flu case. Excerpt:
The World Health Organization has confirmed North America's first H5N1 patient was a woman in her late 20s.
The woman is believed to have contracted the infection in China, where she spent most of December in Beijing.
She was ill on her return to Canada on Dec. 27, was hospitalized on Jan. 1 and died on Jan. 3.
One of the WHO's flu experts said the agency would like more information on her illness, because initial reports have suggested her symptoms were not entirely typical of H5N1 infections.
Dr. Nikki Shindo said the agency would like to know if there has been an autopsy or if one is planned.
Autopsies can yield a wealth of information about a disease but are not commonly done and are frowned on by some cultures.
It wasn't immediately known if an autopsy was conducted in this case.
Alberta's Chief Medical Officer, Dr. James Talbot, has said the woman had neurological symptoms that made doctors suspect she had encephalitis, or a brain infection.
While that isn't a common symptom of flu it can happen and has been reported in some H5N1 cases.
Dr. Keiji Fukuda, the WHO's top flu expert, said when he heard of the case, he was struck by the reference to encephalitis.
The first known person infected with H5N1 -- a three-year-old boy in Hong Kong in 1997 -- showed signs of encephalopathy, said Fukuda, who helped investigate that outbreak.
Shindo said the WHO has gotten preliminary information on the case, but hopes to learn more today about the steps China and Canada will take to try to figure out how the woman became infected with the bird flu virus.