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CHP closely monitors additional plague case in Inner Mongolia
     The Centre for Health Protection (CHP) of the Department of Health is today (November 18) closely monitoring an additional plague case affecting a man aged 55 in Inner Mongolia.

     According to the Health Commission in Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region, the male patient had consumed a hare before onset. He was diagnosed to have bubonic plague on November 16 and has been admitted to hospital for treatment. His close contacts have remained asymptomatic so far, and no epidemiological linkage with the recent two pneumonic plague cases diagnosed in Beijing has been identified.

     A spokesman for the CHP said, "Plague is transmitted from an infected animal (mainly rodents) to humans through the bite of its fleas. Plague can also be contracted when cuts or other breaks in the skin come into contact with the body fluid or tissue of infected animals."

     Bubonic plague is a kind of plague which is not usually transmitted directly from person to person unless there is contact with pus from suppurating buboes. Patients infected with bubonic plague usually present with fever, headache and painful swelling of the regional lymph nodes, especially around the groin. The infection can progress to septicaemic plague when the bacteria invade the blood stream.  

     The spokesman reminded travellers to avoid visiting plague-endemic areas. They should also heighten vigilance on rodents and prevent flea bites. Insect repellents against mosquitoes may equally prevent flea bites and blood-sucking insects. Formulations in lotions or sprays should contain DEET, IR3535 or icaridin (also known as picaridin) as active ingredients. The public should refer to the CHP's tips for using insect repellents.

     "Travellers returning from affected areas with sudden onset of fever, shaking chills, body pains or chest discomfort should seek medical advice as soon as possible and reveal their travel history for prompt investigation and management. Plague is a statutorily notifiable disease and doctors should report suspected or confirmed cases to the CHP for investigations and control," the spokesman added.

     Travellers should take heed of the health advice below during travel:
  • Prevent flea bites by wearing long-sleeved shirts and trousers, and applying insect repellent/insecticide. DEET-containing insect repellent can be applied to exposed skin and clothing, while insecticide containing permethrin can be applied to clothing, not the skin;
  • Avoid going to rural areas, camping or hunting;
  • Never touch rodents, dead animals and their tissues or contaminated materials;
  • Avoid close contact with patients, especially those with cough or chest infection;
  • Avoid going to crowded areas;
  • Seek medical care immediately in case of sudden onset of fever, chills, painful lymph nodes, difficulty in breathing with coughing and/or blood-tainted sputum; and
  • Consult a doctor immediately after contact or exposure to pneumonic plague patients or high-risk exposures, such as bites from fleas or direct contact with body fluids or tissues of potentially infected animals, for prompt assessment of the need for preventive medication.

     Travellers may visit the CHP's plague pageTravel Health News and the Food and Environmental Hygiene Department's advice on rodent control for details.
Ends/Monday, November 18, 2019
Issued at HKT 17:59
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