CHP closely monitors human case of avian influenza A(H5N1) in Canada

     The Centre for Health Protection (CHP) of the Department of Health (DH) is today (January 10) closely monitoring a human case of avian influenza A(H5N1) reported to the World Health Organization (WHO) by Canada.

     According to the WHO, the patient, a previously healthy adult, was first symptomatic on December 27, 2013, and died on January 3, 2014. The case was laboratory confirmed by the Canadian authorities.

     The patient, who visited Beijing from December 6 to 27 and returned to Canada on December 27, was symptomatic during travel with malaise and was feeling feverish. The patient's travel collateral is asymptomatic.

     The patient had no known exposure to poultry, other animals or patients. Close contacts, including household contacts and healthcare workers, are under observation and have received antiviral prophylaxis. All contacts have remained asymptomatic so far. Follow-up on relevant flight passengers is ongoing.

     This is the first human case of avian influenza A(H5N1) reported in Canada and also the first human case in the Americas.

     Including this case, to date, a total of 649 human cases of avian influenza A(H5N1) have been reported globally, including 385 deaths.

     The CHP will follow up with relevant 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 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 have implemented disease prevention and control measures. Thermal imaging systems are in place for body temperature checks of inbound travellers. Random temperature checks by handheld devices will also be arranged. Suspected cases will be immediately referred to public hospitals for follow-up investigation," the spokesman added.

     Regarding health education for travellers, distribution of pamphlets, display of posters in departure and arrival halls, in-flight public announcements, environmental health inspections and provision of regular updates to the travel industry via meetings and correspondence are all proceeding.

     Travellers, especially those returning from avian influenza-affected countries and areas with fever or respiratory symptoms, should immediately wear masks, seek medical attention and reveal their travel history to doctors. Healthcare professionals should pay special attention to patients who might have had contact with poultry, birds or their droppings in affected countries and areas. In response to this case, the list of affected areas has been updated and can be accessed at CHP's website (

     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 ( for more information.

Ends/Friday, January 10, 2014
Issued at HKT 17:35