Epidemiological investigation and follow-up actions by CHP on confirmed human case of avian influenza A(H7N9)

     The Centre for Health Protection (CHP) of the Department of Health (DH) today (January 10) provided an update on the confirmed human case of avian influenza A(H7N9) affecting a man aged 65.

     "The epidemiological investigations, enhanced disease surveillance, port health measures and health education about avian influenza are proceeding," a spokesman for the DH said.

     As of 4pm today, the number of close contacts remained at five while there were 98 other contacts.

     Close contacts were put under quarantine for 10 days from their last contact with the patient and were prescribed the antiviral Tamiflu for prophylaxis, followed by 10 more days of medical surveillance.

     Other contacts remain under medical surveillance. They include another family member of the patient, healthcare workers, clients and visitors of relevant healthcare facilities, an officer at a border control point and the patient's neighbours. Seven of them developed non-specific symptoms and their respiratory specimens all tested negative for the H7 virus.

     "Upon genetic analysis by the Public Health Laboratory Services Branch, genes of the virus from the patient's specimen were determined to be of avian origin. There are no significant differences from H7N9 viruses detected so far on the Mainland and in Hong Kong, nor is there evidence of genetic reassortment with genes of human influenza origin or resistance to the antiviral Tamiflu," the spokesman said.

     Since the first confirmed human case of avian influenza A(H7N9) in Hong Kong on December 3, 2013, the CHP's hotline (2125 1111) has been set up for public enquiries. As of 4pm today, 120 calls have been received.

     "Travellers, especially those returning from avian influenza-affected areas and provinces 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 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/Friday, January 10, 2014
Issued at HKT 18:28