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H5N1 Causes First Death in North America, Officials Contain Growing Panic

A young woman in Canada became the first person to die from the H5N1 flu after Canadian health officials revealed the woman recently visited China.

Health Minister Rona Ambrose said the case in Alberta was isolated and the incident did not present a risk to the public.

Officials said it was the first case of H5N1 circulating in Beijing and said China was also investigating the origination of the infection, according to CTV News

"This is the first evidence of this particular virus circulating in Beijing. Chinese authorities are going to be very interested. We've contacted them already," Dr. Gregory Taylor, deputy chief health officer in Canada, told CBS.

Taylor said the victim only visited Beijing and did not travel to a farm or visit markets, which suggests the infection came from the city.

Health officials tried to assure the general public that the infection could not be passed from human to human.

"This is not a disease that's transmitted between humans so unless you were in the infected in the area and were in contact with an infected bird you are not going to get this illness," Dr. Theresa Tam, of Health Canada, said in a statement.

However, last year health officials revealed that a woman in Taiwan was thought to have contracted the bird flu from a bird, something that was once thought not to be possible.

The new strand, H6N1, was found in a woman said to be in her 20s after she was hospitalized with a lung infection in May of last year. While in the hospital, doctors took a throat swab and sent the sample to the Taiwan Centers for Disease Control.

After testing it was determined that the new strand was that of H6N1 which had been widely found in chickens in Taiwan, but never before in a human patient.

The patient was not identified and it has not been determined how she was able to contract the virus as she did not work where she would have come in contact with live birds.

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