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CHP investigates imported case of Zika Virus Infection
     The Centre for Health Protection (CHP) of the Department of Health is investigating an imported case of Zika Virus Infection this evening (November 15), and again urged the public to adopt strict anti-mosquito measures and safe sex during travel. Pregnant women and those planning pregnancy should not travel to affected areas.
     The Controller of the CHP, Dr Wong Ka-hing, reported the investigation and follow-up of the case in a briefing this evening. The male patient, aged 56 with underlying illnesses, was febrile on November 8 and this was followed by generalised maculopapular rash and diarrhoea on November 11. He attended Sha Tau Kok General Out-patient Clinic (GOPC) on November 12 and was referred to North District Hospital (NDH) on the same day. He has been in stable condition all along and has been admitted for isolation and management.
     His blood and urine specimens tested positive for Zika virus upon testing by the CHP's Public Health Laboratory Services Branch this afternoon.
     Initial enquiries revealed that the patient had travelled alone to New York, Antigua and Barbuda, St Maarten and Anguilla from October 13 to November 8 before onset. He returned from New York via Chicago and arrived in Hong Kong on November 10. He recalled mosquito bites during his stay in Antigua and Barbuda. Antigua and Barbuda, St Maarten and Anguilla have been classified by the World Health Organization (WHO) as countries/areas reporting outbreaks from 2015.
     Locally, he mainly stayed in his residence in Yan Shau Wai, San Tin, Yuen Long, on his own upon arrival until November 12, when he visited San Fung Avenue, Sheung Shui, after attending the GOPC before attending NDH.
     "Upon laboratory confirmation, we immediately commenced epidemiological investigations and informed the Food and Environmental Hygiene Department for vector investigations and control as well as management of the locations concerned for necessary heightened mosquito control and environmental hygiene," Dr Wong said.
     The CHP's Port Health Office has stepped up inspection at boundary control points (BCPs) to maintain strict environmental hygiene with effective mosquito control. Port Health Inspectors have reinforced training for contractors of BCPs, including at the airport, harbour ports and ground crossings, on port hygiene and pest control for effective vector prevention. Health promotion at BCPs has been enhanced through pamphlets and posters to alert travellers to necessary measures against Zika.
     "Routine health surveillance on the body temperature of inbound travellers at all BCPs is ongoing. Suspected cases will be referred to healthcare facilities for follow-up. However, at present, around 70 to 80 per cent of infected persons are asymptomatic and most can recover fully. Therefore, we again urge those arriving from Zika-affected areas to apply insect repellent for at least 21 days upon arrival to reduce the risk of transmission," Dr Wong said.
     The CHP has been working closely with the travel industry and stakeholders, especially agents operating tours in Zika-affected areas and personnel receiving travellers in those areas (particularly pregnant women), to regularly update them on the latest disease information and health advice.
     "We will report the case to the WHO and the national, Guangdong and Macau health authorities and will continue to maintain close liaison with them on the latest developments," Dr Wong said.
     The CHP will issue letters to doctors and hospitals to alert them to the latest situation.
     "According to the latest Zika virus update of the WHO, 15 countries/areas in the Western Pacific and Southeast Asia have reported mosquito-borne outbreak from 2015 onwards, or had possible endemic transmission or evidence of local mosquito-borne infections in 2016. As some of them are popular tourist attractions in close proximity to Hong Kong, the public should remain vigilant on the latest Zika situation during travel while doctors should stay alert to patients with compatible symptoms and travel history," Dr Wong said.
     To date, 75 countries/areas have reported mosquito-borne transmission since 2007, while 12 have reported person-to-person transmission probably by sexual contact since 2016.
     Apart from general measures on preventing mosquito bites and mosquito breeding, the public should take heed of the special notes below:

A. Travelling abroad
  • If going to affected areas, travellers, especially those with immune disorders or severe chronic illnesses, should consult a doctor at least six weeks before the trip and take extra preventive measures to avoid mosquito bites;
  • Those arriving from affected areas should apply insect repellent for at least 21 days upon arrival. If feeling unwell, such as having fever, seek medical advice promptly and provide travel details to the doctor;

B. Sexual transmission
  • Consider not having sex during travel to affected areas, or else condoms should be used;
  • Those arriving from affected areas should consider not having sex for at least six months upon arrival, or else condoms should be used;
C. Pregnant women
  • Pregnant women and those planning pregnancy should not travel to affected areas. All travellers including pregnant women should use mosquito repellent containing DEET during travel and for at least 21 days upon arrival;
  • Attend antenatal follow-up regularly and provide travel history to the doctor;
  • Observe for compatible symptoms and seek medical advice as soon as possible if feeling unwell; and
  • Abstain from sex with a partner who has travelled to affected areas, or else condoms should be used throughout the pregnancy.

     The public may visit the following pages for more information: the Zika pages of the CHP and the Travel Health Service, the Outbound Travel Alert page of the Security Bureau, anti-mosquito precautions for women and the WHO's Zika virus situation reports.
Ends/Tuesday, November 15, 2016
Issued at HKT 19:40
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