Notification of suspected human case of avian influenza A(H7N9) in Guangdong

     The Centre for Health Protection (CHP) of the Department of Health (DH) has been notified by the Department of Health of Guangdong Province of a suspected human case of avian influenza A(H7N9) today (August 9) affecting a 51-year-old woman in Huizhou in Guangdong Province.

     The sample of the patient tested positive for the avian influenza A(H7N9) virus by the Centre for Disease Control and Prevention of Guangdong Province and has been sent to the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention for confirmation by a review test.

     According to the preliminary information, the patient is a poultry worker and has a history of exposure to live poultry. No abnormality was found among the 36 close contacts of this case so far.

     To date, a total of 133 human cases of avian influenza A(H7N9) have been laboratory confirmed in the Mainland, including Zhejiang (46 cases), Shanghai (33 cases), Jiangsu (28 cases), Jiangxi (six cases), Fujian (five cases), Anhui (four cases), Henan (four cases), Shandong (two cases), Hunan (two cases), Beijing (two cases) and Hebei (one case).

     A DH spokesman remarked that the CHP is closely monitoring the situation and maintaining close liaison with the Mainland health authorities for case details, as well as keeping a close eye on the latest advice from the World Health Organization (WHO).

     The CHP has sent letters to doctors and private hospitals to update them on the latest situation of human infection of avian influenza A(H7N9).

     "Locally, no confirmed human cases of avian influenza A(H7N9) have been recorded so far," the spokesman stressed.

     Travellers, especially those returning from Shanghai, Jiangsu, Zhejiang, Anhui, Henan, Beijing, Shandong, Jiangxi, Fujian, Hunan, Hebei or Guangdong, with fever or respiratory symptoms are reminded to immediately wear facial masks, seek medical attention, and reveal their travel history to doctors. Health-care professionals should also pay special attention to patients who might have had contact with birds, poultry or their droppings in affected areas.

     In response to the human cases of avian influenza A(H7N9) in the Mainland, port health measures have been implemented at all border control points (BCPs) and health information is being disseminated to travellers through various means including display of posters on avian influenza A(H7N9) in departure and arrival halls, distribution of health education pamphlets, in-flight announcements, enhanced environmental health inspection, provision of regular updates to travel industries via meetings and correspondence, surveillance of sick travellers and referral of suspected cases to public hospitals for further investigation.

     The DH will continue to maintain its port health measures at all BCPs and keep a close eye on the latest advice from the WHO and the measures of the Mainland inspection and quarantine authorities to strengthen its work in disease prevention and control according to the latest situation.

     The spokesman urged travellers not to visit wet markets with live poultry in the affected areas and to avoid direct contact with poultry, birds and their droppings. If contact has been made, they should thoroughly wash their hands with soap and water.

     Members of the public should remain vigilant and are reminded to take heed of the following preventive advice against avian influenza:

* 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 such as escalator handrails, elevator control panels or door knobs; or when hands are dirtied by respiratory secretions after coughing or sneezing;
* Cover the nose and mouth while sneezing or coughing, and hold the spit with a tissue and put it into a covered dustbin;
* Avoid crowded places and contact with fever patients; and
* Wear a mask when respiratory symptoms develop or when taking care of fever patients.

     The public may visit the CHP's avian influenza page ( for further information.

Ends/Friday, August 9, 2013
Issued at HKT 19:34