Health officials confirmed on Friday that swine flu contributed to the death of an Albertan woman in her 30s, but note she had pre-existing medical conditions.

The death, which occurred on April 28, is one of nine new cases in Alberta today.

Officials ordered further testing of the woman, who was suffering from respiratory problems, after they learned on May 5 she had been in contact with a family member who had a mild form of the H1N1 virus.

The family member was exhibiting signs of the virus at the women's funeral where 300 other people had gathered, CTV Edmonton reported Friday afternoon.

Late on May 7, the Provincial Laboratory of Alberta confirmed the deceased had contracted the same virus.

Officials are conducting further tests to pinpoint what role the virus played in the death.

Dr. Andr� Corriveau, the chief medical officer of health for Alberta, said all measures have been taken to protect the community. The relative is recovering at home.

Health officials are testing residents of the north Albertan town for swine flu, but they haven't confirmed any additional cases.

Officials say no residents of the town had travelled to Mexico recently.

"I want to express my sympathy to the family at this difficult time. And I want to assure them and their community that we are already responding, in a co-ordinated, measured way to notify and give medical advice to everyone who attended the wake last week and anyone else who may have been exposed," Corriveau said.

"It's important to remember, as a larger public health issue, that every year, 4,000 Canadians die from the flu and a high percentage of them have underlying conditions that play a large part in making them susceptible to serious consequences when they get the flu."

There were 28 new cases reported today, including:

  • 6 in B.C.
  • 9 in Alberta
  • 5 in Ontario
  • 4 in Quebec
  • 3 in Nova Scotia
  • 1 in Prince Edward Island.

In total, there are 242 confirmed cases of the outbreak strain of H1N1 in Canada.

In the United States, authorities reported Thursday they have 1,823 confirmed and probable cases in 44 states.

Swine flu has been reported throughout North America and in several other countries in Europe and the South Pacific.

A total of 44 people have died of the flu strain in Mexico and two in the U.S. while nearly all of the cases in Canada have been mild.

Newfoundland and Labrador, as well as the three territories, haven't officially reported any cases.

The World Health Organization says as many as two billion people could be infected by the new H1N1 virus, if the current outbreak continues to spread.

WHO flu chief Keiji Fukuda made the comment Thursday at the daily WHO news conference in Geneva, not as a prediction, but as an observation about flu pandemics.

With a report from CTV Edmonton's Kevin Armstrong