Although it has yet to have as big of impact as avian H7N9, the recently (2014) emerged H5N6 virus - a close cousin to H5N1 - has garnered a good deal of concern as it has infected a handful of humans as it has spread out of China and Laos into Vietnam.
Last October, in H5N6: The Other HPAI H5 Threat, we looked at the history of this rising avian flu threat, while last summer H5N6 Rising: Infecting Birds, Humans, & Even Cats, we looked at a report which appeared last June’s Nature’s Scientific Reports, that warned:
The extensive migration routes of wild birds may contribute to the geographic spread of H5N6 AIVs and pose a risk to humans and susceptible domesticated animals, and the H5N6 AIVs may spread from southern China to northern China by wild birds. Additional surveillance is required to better understand the threat of zoonotic transmission of AIVs.
On Tuesday, in Guangdong Province: Human H5N6 Case In Critical Condition, we looked at the reported infection of a 26 year old woman in Shenzhen. Today we learn of a second case, this time in Zhaoqing, some 200 km northwest of Shenzhen.
Guangdong Province, being a close trading partner with Hong Kong, has generally been more willing to share information on novel flu virus infections than many of the other Chinese provinces. This is the third novel flu infection reported by them in a week (1 H7N9, 2 H5N6).
This from Hong Kong's CHP:
Notification of confirmed human case of avian influenza A(H5N6) in Guangdong
The Centre for Health Protection (CHP) of the Department of Health (DH) has been notified of a confirmed human case of avian influenza A(H5N6) by the Health and Family Planning Commission of Guangdong Province today (January 1) affecting a 40-year-old woman in Zhaoqing.
The patient is currently hospitalised for treatment and in a critical condition.
A spokesman for the DH said, "All novel influenza A infections (including H5N6) are notifiable diseases in Hong Kong.
"Locally, we will remain vigilant and work closely with the World Health Organization and relevant health authorities to monitor the latest developments."
"In view of cases confirmed on the Mainland, members of the public should maintain good personal, food and environmental hygiene at all times during travel," 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. Suspected cases will be immediately referred to public hospitals for follow-up investigation," the spokesman added.
Regarding health education for travellers, the display of posters and broadcast of health messages in departure and arrival halls, environmental health inspection and provision of regular updates to the travel industry via meetings and correspondence are proceeding.
Travellers, especially those returning from avian influenza-affected areas with fever or respiratory symptoms, should 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.
The public should remain vigilant and take heed of the 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 and 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); and 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 avian influenza page of the CHP of the DH (www.chp.gov.hk/en/view_content/24244.html) for more information on avian influenza. The updated information of affected areas can be found on the following webpage:
Ends/Friday, January 1, 2016
Issued at HKT 19:29