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CHP investigates suspected imported human case of avian influenza A(H7)
     The Centre for Health Protection (CHP) of the Department of Health is today (January 10) investigating a suspected imported human case of avian influenza A(H7) in Hong Kong, and again urged the public to maintain strict personal, food and environmental hygiene both locally and during travel.
     The boy, aged 10 with good past health, developed fever, cough and vomiting on January 8. He attended the Accident and Emergency Department of North Lantau Hospital in the past two days and was referred to Princess Margaret Hospital (PMH) for admission yesterday (January 9). The patient has been in stable condition all along. He was discharged this afternoon but has been re-admitted to hospital for isolation tonight.
     His nasopharyngeal aspirate specimen was preliminarily tested positive for influenza A(H7) virus by PMH tonight. Further test by the CHP's Public Health Laboratory Services Branch is underway.
     Enquiries revealed that the patient and his family travelled to Foshan, Guangdong between December 31, 2016 and January 3, 2017. During their brief stay in the Mainland, the patient visited a relative’s home where a few live chickens were kept but he denied direct contact with these chickens. The family had also visited a market there but denied entry into its poultry section.
     The patient’s close contacts have remained asymptomatic so far and have been put under medical surveillance. Tracing of his other contacts in Hong Kong is underway.
     "The case has been reported to Guangdong and Macau health authorities. 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," a spokesman for the CHP said.
     "Locally, three imported human cases of avian influenza A(H7N9) were recorded in the past month. Letters to doctors, hospitals, schools and institutions will be issued to alert them to the latest situation, " a spokesman for the CHP added.
     "We strongly urge the public to avoid touching birds, poultry or their droppings and visiting poultry markets or farms during travel, particularly in the upcoming Lunar New Year holidays. 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, January 10, 2017
Issued at HKT 22:22
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