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Canadian dies from H5N1 avian influenza on return from China

OTTAWA (Reuters) - A Canadian has died from H5N1 avian influenza after returning from a trip to China in what is the only current confirmed case of its kind in North America, federal health officials said on Wednesday.

Officials at a briefing in Ottawa said that the case was isolated and there was minimal risk to the general public. The H5N1 strain - normally spread through contact with infected birds - kills about 60 percent of those infected, they added.

The person, who traveled to China in December, died in the western province of Alberta on January 3. Officials warned Canadians to avoid coming into contact with birds in China.

The Alberta health ministry said in a statement that in 2013, there were 38 world-wide cases of H5N1 avian influenza reported to the World Health Organization and 24 deaths.

(Reporting by David Ljunggren, editing by G Crosse)

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