Case of H5N1 Hits North America

First Posted: Jan 10, 2014 12:10 AM EST

The H5N1 flu has hit North America.

A Canadian who traveled to Beijing died of the bird flu, according to Reuters.

 "I am here to confirm North America's first human case of H5N1, also known as avian flu," Canada Health Minister Rona Ambrose said, in a press conference according to "I want to reassure the public this is an isolated case and the risk of H5N1 to Canadians is very low. There is no evidence of sustained human-to-human transmission."

At this time, health officials have still not revealed how he or she came into contact with the virus, and as the person did not have any underlying health conditions or close contact with birds, this case is quite rare.

However, the unidentified individual remains the first person in the area to die of the health problem. It's noted that he or she first showed symptoms of the avian flu on a Dec. 27 flight from Beijing to Vancouver abroad Air Canada. A week later, he or she was hospitalized for symptoms including fever and headache.

Health officials believe that it may have been from inflammation of the brain and linings that ultimately caused the fatality.

"That is one of the ways that H5N1 patients die," Dr. James Talbot, Alberta's chief medical officer of health, according to "Virtually every case has a pretty strong link to a close contact with birds."

However, health researchers have reassured residents that the risk of getting H5N1 is still relatively low as this was an isolated case.

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