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Imported human case of avian influenza A(H7N9) in Hong Kong under CHP investigation

     The Centre for Health Protection (CHP) of the Department of Health (DH) is today (March 17) investigating an imported human case of avian influenza A(H7N9) in Hong Kong affecting a five-month-old baby girl.

     The patient, who lives in Foshan, Guangdong but has been staying in Shenzhen in the past week, developed fever and vomiting yesterday (March 16). She came to Hong Kong with her parents last night and was taken to the Accident and Emergency Department of North District Hospital (NDH) by taxi for consultation. She was subsequently transferred to Alice Ho Miu Ling Nethersole Hospital (AHNH) by ambulance and was admitted for further management in the small hours of today.

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

     The patient has been sent to Princess Margaret Hospital for isolation. Her current condition is stable.

     The CHP's initial investigation revealed that the patient had been taken to a wet market in Shenzhen by her grandparents four to five days ago where live poultry was sold, but the patient had no direct contact with the poultry.

     "The CHP's epidemiological investigations and contact tracing are on-going. Close contacts including the patient's parents and the patients who had stayed in the same cubicle with the index patient in AHNH will be admitted for testing and observation, while other contacts including relevant healthcare workers, ambulance staff, visitors, staff at Lo Wu Control Point and the taxi driver who took the patient to NDH, will also be traced for exposure assessment and medical surveillance," a spokesman for the CHP explained.

     The CHP will liaise with relevant Mainland health authority to follow-up on the patient's contacts in the Mainland.

     "The Serious Response Level under the Government's Preparedness Plan for Influenza Pandemic remains activated and the CHP's follow-up actions are in full swing," the spokesman said.

     This is the seventh confirmed human case of avian influenza A(H7N9) in Hong Kong. The CHP will notify the World Health Organization (WHO), the National Health and Family Planning Commission as well as health and quarantine authorities of Guangdong and Macao.

     Locally, enhanced surveillance of suspected cases in public and private hospitals is underway. The CHP will continue to maintain liaison with the WHO, the Mainland and overseas health authorities to monitor the latest developments. Local surveillance activities will be modified upon the WHO's recommendations.

     "In view of human cases of avian influenza A(H7N9) confirmed locally and multiple cases notified by the Mainland, further cases are expected in affected and possibly neighbouring areas. Those planning to travel outside Hong Kong should maintain good personal, environmental and food hygiene at all times," the spokesman urged.

     "All boundary control points have implemented disease prevention and control measures. Thermal imaging systems are in place for body temperature checks of inbound travellers. Random temperature checks by handheld devices have also been arranged. Suspected cases will be immediately referred to public hospitals for follow-up investigation," the spokesman added.

     Regarding health education for travellers, display of posters in departure and arrival halls, in-flight public announcements, environmental health inspection and provision of regular updates to the travel industry via meetings and correspondence are proceeding.

     The spokesman advised travellers, especially those returning from avian influenza-affected areas and provinces with fever or respiratory symptoms, to 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 and provinces.

     "We have enhanced publicity and health education to reinforce health advice on the prevention of avian influenza," the spokesman said.

     As of 4pm today, the CHP's hotline (2125 1111) for public enquiries have received 198 calls since the first confirmed human case of avian influenza A(H7N9) in Hong Kong.

     Members of the public should remain vigilant and take heed of the preventive 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, or 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); or 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 the CHP's avian influenza page ( and website ( for more information on avian influenza-affected areas and provinces.

Ends/Monday, March 17, 2014
Issued at HKT 23:52


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