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

     The Centre for Health Protection (CHP) of the Department of Health is today (March 7) investigating an imported human case of avian influenza A(H7N9) in Hong Kong, and again urged the public to maintain strict personal, food and environmental hygiene both locally and during travel.
     The male patient, aged 76 with underlying illnesses, developed fever and cough with sputum on March 3 and sought medical attention at a private clinic the next day. He attended the Accident and Emergency Department of Yan Chai Hospital on March 5 and was admitted on the same day for management. The patient has been transferred to Princess Margaret Hospital for isolation and further management. His clinical diagnosis is pneumonia and he is now in a critical condition.
     His nasopharyngeal aspirate specimen tested positive for influenza A(H7N9) virus tonight.

     Enquiries revealed that the patient travelled alone to Fuzhou, Fujian between February 11 and March 1 during which he visited a wet market there. The patient’s close contact has remained asymptomatic so far and has been put under medical surveillance. Tracing of his other contacts in Hong Kong is underway.
     "The case has been reported to the Mainland and Macau health authorities as well as the World Health Organization. We are communicating with the Mainland authority to follow up the patient's exposure and movements in the Mainland. Based on information available thus far, it is classified as an imported case. Epidemiological investigations are ongoing. We will issue letters to doctors, hospitals, schools and institutions to alert them to the latest situation," a spokesman for the CHP said.

     "In Hong Kong, it is the fifth imported human case of H7N9 recorded this winter. The number of human cases reported in the Mainland has increased substantially with more than 480 cases recorded since last October. The number of cases in this wave so far has been much higher than that in the same period last winter season. The situation demands particular attention," the spokesman added.

     "We strongly urge the public to avoid touching birds, poultry or their droppings and visiting poultry markets or farms during travel. If feeling unwell such as having fever or cough, wear a mask and seek medical advice at once. Travellers returning from affected areas should consult doctors promptly if symptoms develop and let them know their travel history for prompt diagnosis and treatment," the spokesman said.
     The CHP's Port Health Office conducts health surveillance measures at all boundary control points. Thermal imaging systems are in place for body temperature checks on inbound travellers. Suspected cases will be immediately referred to public hospitals for follow-up.
     The display of posters and broadcasting of health messages in departure and arrival halls as health education for travellers is underway. The travel industry and other stakeholders are regularly updated on the latest information.
     The public should maintain strict personal, hand, food and environmental hygiene and take heed of the advice below while handling poultry:
  • Avoid touching poultry, birds, animals or their droppings;
  • When buying live chickens, do not touch them and their droppings. Do not blow at their bottoms. Wash eggs with detergent if soiled with faecal matter and cook and consume them immediately. Always wash hands thoroughly with soap and water after handling chickens and eggs;
  • Eggs should be cooked well until the white and yolk become firm. Do not eat raw eggs or dip cooked food into any sauce with raw eggs. Poultry should be cooked thoroughly. If there is pinkish juice running from the cooked poultry or the middle part of its bone is still red, the poultry should be cooked again until fully done;
  • Wash hands frequently, especially before touching the mouth, nose or eyes, before handling food or eating, and after going to the toilet, 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; and
  • Wear a mask if fever or respiratory symptoms develop, when going to a hospital or clinic, or while taking care of patients with fever or respiratory symptoms.
     The public may visit the CHP's pages for more information: the avian influenza page, the weekly Avian Influenza Report, global statistics and affected areas of avian influenza, the Facebook Page and the YouTube Channel.

Ends/Tuesday, March 7, 2017
Issued at HKT 21:59