News Highlights

Bugs will travel: Public health watches foreign outbreaks because diseases move

10 January 2014 — A Toronto grandmother came home from Hong Kong with SARS. A Colorado woman visited a Ugandan cave and brought back to the United States an alarming souvenir — Marburg fever, a cousin of Ebola. And now H5N1 bird flu has jumped the Pacific in the body of an Alberta woman. If you ever wonder why public health officials worry about far-flung diseases — the latest bird flu, the new MERS coronavirus — the incidents above pretty much explain it. Bugs travel. Or as public health folks like to put it, infectious diseases know no borders.

Fatal case of H5N1 bird flu reported in Alberta, first North American case

8 January 2014 — Canada has reported North America's first case of H5N1 bird flu infection, in an Alberta resident who recently returned from a month's visit to China. The person, whose name and age were not revealed, was reportedly feeling ill on Dec. 27 while flying from Beijing to Vancouver and then on to Edmonton. The patient was admitted to hospital on Jan. 1 and died Jan. 3. Federal public health officials said confirmation of the rare exported H5N1 infection was made Tuesday evening and Canada informed officials of the World Health Organization on Wednesday.

A global threat or so 2013? Experts read the tea leaves on MERS coronavirus

6 January 2014 — Infectious disease watchers were worried in the late summer of 2013. The largest annual mass gathering in the world, the Hajj, was approaching. Meanwhile, infections with the new MERS coronavirus were mounting weekly in Saudi Arabia, where more than two million of the Muslim faithful would soon gather.

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