The Centre for Health Protection (CHP) of the Department of Health today (December 31) reported the latest updates on contact tracing after samples of live chickens imported from the Mainland tested positive for avian influenza A(H7) virus, and again urged the public to maintain strict personal, food and environmental hygiene both locally and during travel.
In collaboration with the Food and Environmental Hygiene Department and the Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department, the CHP's epidemiological investigations have so far identified one close contact who is a poultry worker at Cheung Sha Wan Temporary Wholesale Poultry Market (CSWTWPM), and 77 other contacts including a lorry driver who transported the involved consignment of live chickens, poultry workers and staff at CSWTWPM and Man Kam To Animal Inspection Station, and workers involved in the poultry culling operation.
The CHP is tracing these contacts and will monitor their health conditions. Among them, a member of staff at CSWTWPM developed sore throat and his specimen tested negative for influenza A virus.
"Enhanced surveillance of suspected human cases in public and private hospitals is ongoing," a spokesman for the CHP remarked.
"Poultry workers, who have prolonged exposure to live poultry, might have higher risks of contracting the virus from infected poultry and hence increased risks of genetic reassortment of the virus. Poultry workers have been recommended by the CHP's Scientific Committee on Vaccine Preventable Diseases as one of the priority groups and have been covered in the Government Vaccination Programme under which they are eligible for free influenza vaccination. We advise them to get vaccinated early as it is one of the effective means to prevent influenza-associated complications and hospitalisations," the spokesman added.
Letters to doctors and hospitals will be issued to alert them to the latest situation.
The National Health and Family Planning Commission and the health authorities of Guangdong and Macau have been informed.
Poultry workers and cullers in doubt may call the CHP's avian influenza hotline (2125 1111) for enquiries and it operates from 9am to 6pm.
Ends/Wednesday, December 31, 2014