For the second time in less than 2 weeks China is reporting a human H5N6 infection - and for the first time out of Guangxi Province - which borders Vietnam.
As has become increasingly common with China, we are hearing about this case somewhat belatedly, in this case more than two weeks after this patient was hospitalized (Nov 18th).
With H5N6 now expanding its range into South Korea and Japan, and other countries and territories along shared migratory flyways potentially under the gun, this serves as a reminder that while infection with H5N6 may be uncommon, it remains a genuine health risk for those exposed to infected poultry.
This from Hong Kong's CHP.
The Centre for Health Protection (CHP) of the Department of Health (DH) today (December 1) received notification of an additional human case of avian influenza A(H5N6) in Guangxi from the National Health and Family Planning Commission, and again urged the public to maintain strict personal, food and environmental hygiene both locally and during travel.
The case involved a 30-year-old female farmer from Liuzhou. She developed symptoms on November 8 and was hospitalised on November 18. She is now in a serious condition. The patient had contact with dead poultry before the onset of symptoms.
"Based on the seasonal pattern of avian influenza viruses, their activity in the Mainland is expected to increase in winter. The public should avoid contact with poultry, birds and their droppings and should not visit live poultry markets and farms to prevent avian influenza," a spokesman for the CHP said.
From 2014 to date, 16 human cases of avian influenza A(H5N6) have been reported by the Mainland health authorities.
"All novel influenza A infections, including H5N6, are notifiable infectious diseases in Hong Kong," the spokesman said.
"We will remain vigilant and work closely with the World Health Organization and relevant health authorities to monitor the latest developments," the spokesman added.
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 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.
The public should remain vigilant and take heed of the advice against avian influenza below:
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
- 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.