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CHP investigates imported human case of avian influenza A(H7N9)

     The Centre for Health Protection (CHP) of the Department of Health (DH) is today (January 23) investigating the second imported human case of avian influenza A(H7N9) in Hong Kong this winter.

     "Based on the seasonal pattern, it is likely that the activity of avian influenza viruses might further increase in winter and heightened vigilance is warranted. As the Serious Response Level under the Preparedness Plan for Influenza Pandemic remains activated, we again urge the public to maintain strict personal, food and environmental hygiene both locally and during travel," a spokesman for the CHP said.

Epidemiological investigations and control measures

     The male patient, aged 79 with good past health, has presented with runny nose, sore throat and cough with sputum since January 19 and consulted a private doctor on the same day. He then attended the Accident and Emergency Department (AED) of Alice Ho Miu Ling Nethersole Hospital yesterday (January 22) and was found febrile. He has been transferred to the Hospital Authority Infectious Disease Centre in Princess Margaret Hospital for further management and isolation and has been in stable condition all along.

     His nasopharyngeal aspirate tested positive for avian influenza A(H7N9) upon preliminary laboratory testing by the CHP's Public Health Laboratory Services Branch.

     Initial epidemiological investigations revealed that the patient had travelled to Zhangmutou, Dongguan, Guangdong, on January 5 on his own during which he had visited a wet market with live poultry stalls but with no direct contact with poultry. He returned to Hong Kong on January 19 via Lo Wu Control Point. Based on information available thus far, it is classified as an imported case. Investigations are ongoing.

     Contact tracing conducted so far located two close contacts who accompanied the patient to the AED.

(A) Close contacts

     Close contacts will be put under quarantine and prescribed with antiviral presumptive treatment until the completion of the five-day treatment or ten days after last exposure to the patient, whichever is earlier. They include the patient's son and a female family member who are asymptomatic.

(B) Other contacts

     Tracing of other contacts, including relevant healthcare workers, ambulance officers, immigration officer and the doctor whom the patient consulted as well as relevant staff and clients, is underway. Other contacts will be put under medical surveillance.

     The CHP is communicating with the relevant Mainland health authority to follow up the situation during the patient's stay in the Mainland.

Enhanced surveillance

     The CHP has enhanced surveillance of suspected cases in public and private hospitals, and activated electronic reporting system to monitor cases real-time with the Hospital Authority. Clinicians should pay special attention to patients with fever or influenza-like illness who visited wet market with live poultry or had contact with poultry in affected areas within the incubation period, that is ten days before onset.

     Letters to doctors, hospitals, kindergartens, child care centres, primary and secondary schools as well as residential care homes for the elderly and the disabled will be issued to alert them to the latest situation.

     The case will be notified to the World Health Organization, the National Health and Family Planning Commission (NHFPC), the health authorities of Guangdong and Macau, and the quarantine authority of Shenzhen.

     To date, 506 cases have been reported by the Mainland health authorities since March 2013, including 489 cases in the Mainland and 17 cases exported to Hong Kong (12 cases), Taiwan (four cases) and Malaysia (one case).

Enhanced port health measures

     All boundary control points have implemented health surveillance 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. The DH's Port Health Office has enhanced body temperature checks by handheld devices.

     Regarding health education for travellers, the display of posters and broadcasting of health messages in departure and arrival halls, environmental health inspection and provision of regular updates to the travel industry and other stakeholders will be enhanced.
Risk communication

     The CHP's hotline (2125 1111) for public enquiries operated till 9pm today and will operate from 9am to 6pm tomorrow (January 24).

     Travellers, especially those returning from avian influenza-affected 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 areas.

     The public should remain vigilant and take heed of the advice against avian influenza below:
* Do not visit live poultry markets and farms. Avoid contact with poultry, birds and their droppings;
* If contact has been made, thoroughly wash hands with soap;
* Avoid entering areas where poultry may be slaughtered and contact with surfaces which might be contaminated by droppings of poultry or other animals;
* 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); and 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 pages below for more information:
* The CHP's avian influenza page (; and
* Global statistics and affected areas of avian influenza in the CHP's website (

Ends/Friday, January 23, 2015
Issued at HKT 21:29


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