Today, a man in Canada died from the first case of H5N1 bird flu ever recorded on the North American continent. Here’s what you need to know:
1. The Victim Just Returned From China
According to the AP report, the deceased first noticed symptoms of the illness, while returning to Canada from China, via a flight out of Beijing. Health Officials say there is no evidence the victim infected anyone else.
2. Health Officials Say Risk to the Public Is Low
Public Health officials are describing this as an “isolated case.” Experts believe the virus remains noncontagious between humans, infection occurring primarily through contact with diseased poultry.
3. Avian Flu Kills More Than Half Its Victims
There have been 648 laboratory-confirmed human cases of H5N1, over half of which (384) have proved fatal. The vast majority of cases have been found in Asia, and the Mediterranean. A complete list of countries where avian flu has been detected can be found here.
As long as the virus remains noncontagious between humans, the flu will remain a marginal public health threat. The fear is that the virus might one day mutate, and pass through the population easy as a cold.
4. You Can’t Get it From Eating Eggs
According to the CDC’s FAQs on the virus, there is no evidence that ingesting chicken/chicken products can lead to infection. The best safety precaution you can take, appears to be to steer clear of sickly Asian birds.
5. If You Do Get Bird Flu, Buy Some Tamiflu
One cause for comfort is that medical professionals believe the death rate from H5N1 would be much lower if reported cases didn’t come disproportionately from underdeveloped countries. According to Medical News Today, if Tamiflu is administered to a patient within in three days of the first symptoms, complete recovery is likely.