In the recent Canadian Journal of Infectious Diseases and Medical Microbiology, Rajabali and colleagues in Red Deer Alberta report a dramatic, fatal case of H5N1 pneumonia and meningoencephalitis in a returning traveler from Beijing.
This is the first case of H5N1 in North America.
In January of this year, the first case of H7N9 in North America was diagnosed in Vancouver, also in a returning traveler from China.
Unlike H5N1 (which is a strain of highly pathogenic avian influenza; HPAI), birds infected with H7N9 are “silent spreaders” and do not show symptoms when infected. Both H5N1 and H7N9 can cause serious illness and death in humans.
Several studies have demonstrated that shutting down live poultry markets (LPM) has effectively interrupted human exposure to H7N9 avian influenza in China.
Faced with mounting evidence of the pandemic potential of an increasingly worrisome mix of influenza viruses, scientists have sounded the alarms and advocated for permanently closing live poultry markets.