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First human case of H7N9 avian flu in North America confirmed in B.C.

The first ever human case of H7N9 bird flu in North America has been confirmed in B.C.

The female patient had recently visited China, but did not show any symptoms until she returned to Canada.

Duputy Provincial Health Minister of British Columbia Dr. Bonnie Henry says the patient did not have to be hospitalized, and the public should not be concerned.

“This strain does not transmit easily from person to person, and given the time since illness, and the fact that all contacts are currently well, it is extremely unlikely that we will see any additional cases here in B.C.”

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The strain has infected 108 people and killed 23 in China in the past few weeks, and Chief Public Health Officer of Canada Dr. Gregory Taylor adds that it was not seen in humans in that country until 2013.

“The virus H7N9 is not like H5N1 avian influenza. H5N1 transmits much more easily between birds and people, and those infected usually have more severe illness.”

A man the woman was travelling with also fell ill with similar symptoms, but whether they have the flu as well has not yet been confirmed.

They are both recovering well in self-isolation.

Photo by United Soybean Board

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