Canada reports first flu death as U.S. cases climb

Fri May 8, 2009 7:19pm EDT
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By Daniel Trotta

MEXICO CITY (Reuters) - The new H1N1 flu killed its first patient in Canada, making it the third country after Mexico and the United States to report a death from the virus that has sickened more than 3,000 people in 27 countries.

Alberta's chief medical officer said on Friday that the woman in her 30s who died on April 28 had not traveled to Mexico, the epicenter of the swine flu outbreak, which suggests a more sustained spread of the infection.

Her death raised the confirmed global death toll to 48 from the virus, a strange coupling between a triple-hybrid virus with pig, human and bird elements and a European swine virus not seen before in North America.

Alberta was also where a herd of pigs became infected with the H1N1 swine flu, apparently infected by a man who had traveled to Mexico.

The World Health Organization kept its global pandemic alert at 5 out of 6 because the new virus was not spreading rapidly outside North America, where U.S. officials expect it to spread to all 50 states.

Japan reported its first three confirmed cases, a man in his 40s and two teenagers who had spent time in Canada. Italy also reported the first case of the H1N1 flu strain transmitted within the country -- a 70-year-old man in Rome caught the virus from his grandson, who returned from a holiday in Mexico.

In Mexico, authorities reported one more death, based on lab tests of patients who died in days past, to raise the total to 45. A quarter of the dead were obese, the government said.

The virus has also killed two people in the United States, where President Barack Obama said, "... we're seeing that the virus may not have been as virulent as we at first feared but we're not out of the woods yet."   Continued...

<p>A student wears a surgical mask inside a library at Instituto Politechnico Nacional University after it was reopened, in Mexico City May 7, 2009. Millions of high school and university students returned to classes in Mexico as the government said the worst of the flu crisis is over and the country got back on its feet after shutting public places last week to avoid spread of the virus. REUTERS/Jorge Dan</p>