The Centre for Health Protection (CHP) of the Department of Health (DH) was notified by the Health and Family Planning Commission (HFPC) of Guangdong Province today (January 7) of an additional human case of avian influenza A(H7N9) affecting a man aged 31.
The patient, who lives in Shenzhen, had onset of symptoms on December 30, 2013 and was admitted to a local hospital on January 3. His specimen tested positive for avian influenza A(H7N9) virus by the relevant health authority of Guangdong Province today. He had no recent history of contact with poultry and is currently in stable condition. His thirty-five close contacts in Shenzhen have been put under medical surveillance with their specimens all tested negative for avian influenza A(H7N9) virus by the relevant health authority of Guangdong Province.
Investigation by Centre for Disease Control and Prevention of Guangdong Province also revealed that the patient had another close contact who is a four-year-old girl living in Hong Kong. The girl and her 37-year-old mother travelled to Shenzhen between December 26, 2013 and January 6, 2014. The girl had close contact with that patient on December 30, 2013.
Upon receipt of the notification from Guangdong HFPC, the CHP commenced contact tracing immediately and located the duo today. Preliminary investigation by the CHP showed that the girl has been asymptomatic all along while her mother developed sore throat last night (January 6).
The pair has been admitted to Princess Margaret Hospital for isolation and their respiratory specimens will be taken for preliminary laboratory testing by the Public Health Laboratory Services Branch of the CHP.
To date, a total of 149 human cases of avian influenza A(H7N9) have been confirmed in the Mainland. They are in Zhejiang (52 cases), Shanghai (34 cases), Jiangsu (28 cases), Guangdong (nine cases), Jiangxi (six cases), Fujian (five cases), Anhui (four cases), Henan (four cases), Beijing (two cases), Hunan (two cases), Shandong (two cases) and Hebei (one case).
The CHP will follow up with the Mainland health authorities for more case details.
"Locally, enhanced disease surveillance, port health measures and health education against avian influenza are ongoing. We will remain vigilant and maintain liaison with the World Health Organization (WHO) and relevant health authorities. Local surveillance activities will be modified upon the WHO's recommendations," a spokesman for the DH said.
All border control points (BCPs) have implemented disease prevention and control measures. Thermal imaging systems are in place for body temperature checks of inbound travellers. Suspected cases will be immediately referred to public hospitals for follow-up investigation.
Regarding health education for travellers at BCPs, distribution of pamphlets, display of posters in departure and arrival halls, in-flight public announcements, environmental health inspection and provision of regular updates to the travel industry via meetings and correspondence are all proceeding.
"Travellers, especially those returning from avian influenza A(H7N9)-affected areas and provinces, with fever or respiratory symptoms should immediately wear masks, seek medical attention and reveal their travel history to doctors. Health-care professionals should pay special attention to patients who might have had contact with poultry, birds or their droppings in affected areas and provinces," the spokesman advised.
Members of the public should remain vigilant and take heed of the preventive advice against avian influenza below:
* Do not visit live poultry markets. Avoid contact with poultry, birds and their droppings. If contact has been made, thoroughly wash hands with soap;
* Poultry and eggs should be thoroughly cooked before eating;
* Wash hands frequently with soap, especially before touching the mouth, nose or eyes, handling food or eating; after going to the toilet or touching public installations or equipment (including escalator handrails, elevator control panels and door knobs); or when hands are dirtied by respiratory secretions after coughing or sneezing;
* Cover the nose and mouth while sneezing or coughing, hold the spit with a tissue and put it into a covered dustbin;
* Avoid crowded places and contact with fever patients; and
* Wear masks when respiratory symptoms develop or when taking care of fever patients.
The public may visit the CHP's avian influenza page (www.chp.gov.hk/en/view_content/24244.html) and website (www.chp.gov.hk/files/pdf/global_statistics_avian_influenza_e.pdf) for more information on avian influenza-affected areas and provinces.
Ends/Tuesday, January 7, 2014