The first reported case of H5N1, the Bird or Avian flu, has touched down in North America, Canada to be exact.
Canadian health officials have confirmed that it was the H5N1 flu that killed a resident of Alberta, Canada who had just returned from Beijing.
Canada’s Health Minister, Rona Ambrose, said the infected individual had recently traveled to Beijing.
“As Canada’s Health Minister I want to reassure the public this is an isolated case,” Ambrose said. “The risk of H5N1 to Canadians is very low. There is no evidence of sustained human-to-human transmission. It is also important for Canadians to know that this case is not part of the seasonal flu which circulates in Canada every year.”
It is the first human case that was imported into North America from a traveler, and that traveler was not a poultry handler. No H5N1 viruses have been detected in people or in animals in the United States.
This fact has experts and the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and the World Health Organization (WHO) a bit concerned. According to WHO most avian flu viruses do not cause disease in humans. However, some like H5N1 are zoonotic, which means they can infect humans and cause disease, even death.
The CDC claims that of all of the human cases, nearly 650 people, who have been tested for H5N1 since 2003 have been in direct contact or proximity to poultry. However, experts claim that once that smart little virus mutates and learns how to jump from bird to human, it is only a matter of time before it’s jumping from human to human.
To keep people from outright panic over the animal related influenza that is traveling around the globe, killing people in record numbers such as the H1N1 virus, they’ve made a statement claiming that: people in the Americas posed by the detection of this one case is very low. The U.S. agency is not recommending that the public take any special actions regarding H5N1 virus in response to the Canadian case.
We are in flu season, yes, however, until factory farms stop condensing animals which is causing an overuse of antibiotics to get them to slaughter, thereby creating superbugs and viruses that are resistant to the vaccines being administered to prevent them, this is only going to get worse.
Image via Farm Sanctuary