A 25-year-old British Columbia man with asthma has died after contracting enterovirus D68.

The BC Centre for Disease Control said the case is a reminder that adults are not immune to complications that can occur from EV-D68 infections.

It’s the first death in Canada linked to EV-D68, which has been spreading among children and young people in North America.

The man’s family and friends have identified him as Reuben Deuling. He was from B.C.’s Lower Mainland and had a history of severe asthma. He did not experience paralysis or neurological symptoms that have been linked to some EV-D68 cases in Canada and the U.S., health authorities said.

“It’s not known to what extent D68 may have caused or contributed to this death, but either way, this is a tragic loss for the family and our heartfelt condolences go out to them,” infectious disease specialist Dr. Danuta Skowronski told reporters Friday in a teleconference call.

Deuling’s father, Tim Deuling, told CTV News that his son had a “massive” asthma attack.

“You or I, or anybody that’s healthy, it’s not a big deal,” he said of the enterovirus D68 infection.

“It’s just another virus that goes around every year. They happen all the time. In Reuben’s case, it triggered his asthma and he had a massive asthma attack.”

Skowronski said the patient died earlier this week from “rapidly progressive” respiratory failure.

Enterovirus D68 isn't reportable in Canada, so it’s possible that it may have contributed to other deaths in cases where doctors weren’t looking for the infection, she added.   

She said that although children seem to be especially vulnerable to enterovirus D68, adults should not “consider themselves exempt” from infection.

“People of any age with underlying conditions, especially heart and lung, and notably asthma, do sometimes experience more severe complications when infected with respiratory viruses,” Skowronski said.

The 36 people in B.C. with confirmed EV-D68 infections range in age from less than a year old to older than 80, she said. Two-thirds of those cases have involved male patients.

In Ontario, more than 170 EV-D68 cases have been confirmed so far.

In a separate news conference, Canada’s chief public health officer, Dr. Gregory Taylor, said that while it’s not known whether EV-D68 caused the B.C. man’s death, people with asthma are at a greater risk.

“Unfortunately with asthma, sometimes people get severe asthmatic attacks and die, which could be triggered by the common cold,” he said.

In the U.S., seven deaths have been linked to EV-D68 in the most recent outbreak, Skowronski said. But she stressed that in most cases, EV-D68 infections only cause mild, cold-like symptoms.

Limb paralysis or weakness has been seen in some EV-D68 patients, but doctors are still trying to establish a definitive link between the two.

With a report from CTV’s Vancouver Bureau Chief Melanie Nagy and files from The Canadian Press