For the 3rd time this year, and for the 16th time since the virus emerged in 2013, Hong Kong public health authorities are investigating an imported case of H7N9. The last imported case was reported on March 18th (see HK CHP Reports 2nd Imported H7N9 Case Of 2016).
Today's case involves an 80 year old man who visited Guangdong Province between April 1st and 5th, where he visited a wet market in Dongguan on April 2, purchased a bird, which he slaughtered the following day.
Since his return, he has been seen by several doctors - starting on April 7th - for a variety of complaints (including cough, headache, and eventually fever), but it wasn't until he was hospitalized on the 17th that he was tested for the H7N9 virus.
The epidemiological investigation is just starting, and I'm sure we'll hear more about possible contacts in the next day or so. Meanwhile letters are being sent to all doctors and hospitals in Hong Kong alerting them.
Here is the CHP statement:
CHP investigates imported human case of avian influenza A(H7N9) infection
The Centre for Health Protection (CHP) of the Department of Health (DH) is today (April 19) investigating the third imported human case of avian influenza A(H7N9) infection in Hong Kong this year affecting an 80-year-old man.
The patient, with underlying illnesses, travelled to Dongguan, Guangdong from April 1 to 5. He has presented with cough with sputum, headache and gouty attack since April 6 and consulted a private doctor on April 7. He sought medical consultation from another private doctor on April 14 and was found to have fever. He developed confusion and refused eating on April 17, and was sent to Accident and Emergency Department of United Christian Hospital by ambulance for treatment on the same day. He was subsequently admitted to isolation ward.
The patient's sputum specimens tested positive for avian influenza A(H7N9) virus upon laboratory testing by the Public Health Laboratory Services Branch of the CHP. The patient will be transferred to the Hospital Authority Infectious Disease Centre in Princess Margaret Hospital for further management. He is currently in stable condition.
Initial investigations by the CHP revealed that the patient visited a wet market near his residence in Dongguan on April 2. He bought a live chicken from the wet market and slaughtered it on April 3. His two travel collaterals and another three close contacts have remained asymptomatic so far. Tracing of the patient's contacts in Hong Kong is ongoing.
The CHP's investigation is continuing.
The case will be notified to the World Health Organization and the National Health and Family Planning Commission. The CHP is communicating with the Mainland health authority to follow up on the patient's exposure and movements in the Mainland. Based on information available thus far, it is classified as an imported case.
Letters to doctors, hospitals, kindergartens, child care centres and primary and secondary schools as well as residential care homes for the elderly and the disabled will be issued to alert them to the latest situation.
This is the 16th imported human case of avian influenza A(H7N9) infection confirmed in Hong Kong. From 2013 to date, 738 human cases of avian influenza A(H7N9) infection 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 under way. The travel industry and other stakeholders are regularly updated on the latest information.
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.
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