TORONTO – Health officials said Tuesday a 70-year-old Ontario man died of West Nile virus, the first human fatality in which the disease was contracted in Canada.
Another Canadian who died of West Nile virus in 1999 got the disease during a visit to the United States.
"It is clear that Ontario has entered a new era of concern for public health," provincial Health Minister Tony Clement told reporters in announcing confirmation of the West Nile death.
The name of the victim was not made public. Dr. Neil Rau said the man died during the weekend at a hospital west of Toronto.
Two other Ontario men have West Nile virus, and 14 other possible cases are awaiting confirmation of laboratory tests.
In the United States, the virus has killed more than 60 people, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Canadian officials have warned in recent years that the virus, which has been detected in birds and animals in Canada, would spread to humans. It is transmitted by mosquito bites.
The virus is most dangerous for children, the elderly and people with weak immune systems. It can cause flu-like symptoms and encephalitis, a potentially fatal brain infection. Most people bitten by an infected mosquito don't become ill.