The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Thursday it is preparing a vaccine for a new strain of avian flu linked to 14 cases and five deaths in China.

The U.S. agency said it is preparing the vaccine as a precaution.

Canadian and U.S. health authorities both say they are monitoring the new H7N9 strain.

The new strain, which has only been found in China, is not able to spread from person to person, a key trait that scientists look for when assessing the pandemic potential of flu viruses.

On its website, the CDC said it is following the situation closely and co-ordinating with domestic and international partners.

Similarly, the Public Health Agency of Canada said it has a medical expert based in Beijing who is liaising with Chinese infectious disease prevention authorities on the outbreak.

"The Agency is also continually monitoring information on avian influenza H7N9 in poultry, as well as human cases in China and is working closely with its national and international partners, including the World Health Organization, to track all types of flu activity in Canada and around the world," the Public Health Agency of Canada said in an email.   

Scientists worldwide are also examining the genetic sequence of the virus and assessing its severity as a routine measure.

With files from The Canadian Press