Zhejiang Province – Credit Wikipedia
Although we don’t have any way of matching them up, these two cases are likely the two cases I wrote about last Sunday (see China’s NHFPC Reports 2 H7N9 Cases In September), which did not provide any specifics. We saw another reported H7N9 case from Zhejiang Province on October 4th of this year, as well.
As the CHP report notes, we are entering the winter `bird flu season’, which has seen three major H7N9 outbreaks since the virus first emerged in the spring of 2013.
Each year, the virus evolves, reassorts, and diversifies further (see EID Journal: H7N9’s Evolution During China’s Third Wave – Guangdong Province), meaning we never quite know what the upcoming flu season will produce. Hence the cautionary stance by Hong Kong’s Centre for Health Protection.
The Centre for Health Protection (CHP) of the Department of Health (DH) today (October 13) was notified of two human cases of avian influenza A(H7N9) in Zhejiang by the National Health and Family Planning Commission (NHFPC), and again urged the public to maintain strict personal, food and environmental hygiene both locally and during travel.
According to the NHFPC, the cases comprise a male poultry worker aged 53 in Jinhua with onset on September 21, and a female farmer aged 55 in Huzhou who had poultry exposure with onset on September 18. Both are now in a serious condition.
"Based on previous seasonal patterns, it is likely that the activity of avian influenza viruses might increase in winter. Heightened vigilance is warranted. Locally, we will work closely with the World Health Organization and relevant health authorities to monitor the latest developments," a spokesman for the DH said.
From 2013 to date, 659 human cases of avian influenza A(H7N9) have been reported by the Mainland health authorities.
The DH'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 broadcast of health messages in departure and arrival halls as health education for travellers is underway. The travel industry and other stakeholders are regularly updated of latest information.
Travellers, especially those returning from avian influenza-affected areas with fever or respiratory symptoms, should 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.