Following the announcment this morning of an additional 11 H7N9 cases in Guangdong Province, Hong Kong's CHP has issued the following statement.
CHP alerts public to high avian influenza A(H7N9) activity in Guangdong
The Centre for Health Protection (CHP) of the Department of Health today (January 17) drew the public's special attention to the high activity of avian influenza A(H7N9) in Guangdong. Travellers should be on full alert and maintain strict personal, hand, food and environmental hygiene particularly in the upcoming Lunar New Year holidays.
The Health and Family Planning Commission of Guangdong Province reported that 11 human cases of avian influenza A(H7N9), with two deaths, have been recorded so far in 2017 including three from Foshan, two from Guangzhou and one each in Zhongshan, Zhaoqing, Meizhou, Dongguan, Qingyuan and Shunde.
Of note, in the first week of January, 60 out of 637 environmental samples from 21 live poultry markets in 15 cities in Guangdong tested positive for H7 virus. The positive percentage is 9.42 per cent.
The CHP is also closely monitoring an additional human H7N9 case in Hunan. According to the Hunan Provincial Center for Disease Control and Prevention the female patient, aged 36 from Hengyang and in a critical condition, had poultry exposure.
"As human H7N9 cases continue to occur in Guangdong and the positive percentage of environmental samples is substantial, we again urge the public to pay special attention to health risks of the places of visit," a spokesman for the CHP said.
"We strongly urge the public to avoid touching birds, poultry or their droppings and visiting poultry markets or farms during travel. If feeling unwell, such as having a fever or cough, wear a mask and seek medical advice at once. Travellers returning from affected areas should consult doctors promptly if symptoms develop, and actively inform the doctors of their travel history for prompt diagnosis and treatment," the spokesman said.
Adults and parents should also look after children with extra care in personal, hand, food and environmental hygiene against infections during travel.
"While local surveillance, prevention and control measures are in place, we will remain vigilant and work closely with the World Health Organization and relevant health authorities to monitor the latest developments," the spokesman said.
As the H7N9 virus continues to be detected in animals and environments in the Mainland, additional human cases are expected in affected and possibly neighbouring areas. In view of the heavy trade and travel between the Mainland and Hong Kong, further sporadic imported human cases in Hong Kong every now and then are expected, especially in the coming few months.
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.
The public should maintain strict personal, hand, food and environmental hygiene and take heed of the advice below while handling poultry:
- Avoid touching poultry, birds, animals or their droppings;
- When buying live chickens, do not touch them and their droppings. Do not blow at their bottoms. Wash eggs with detergent if soiled with faecal matter and cook and consume them immediately. Always wash hands thoroughly with soap and water after handling chickens and eggs;
- Eggs should be cooked well until the white and yolk become firm. Do not eat raw eggs or dip cooked food into any sauce with raw eggs. Poultry should be cooked thoroughly. If there is pinkish juice running from the cooked poultry or the middle part of its bone is still red, the poultry should be cooked again until fully done;
- Wash hands frequently, especially before touching the mouth, nose or eyes, before handling food or eating, and after going to the toilet, touching public installations or equipment such as escalator handrails, elevator control panels or door knobs, or when hands are dirtied by respiratory secretions after coughing or sneezing; and
- Wear a mask if fever or respiratory symptoms develop, when going to a hospital or clinic, or while taking care of patients with fever or respiratory symptoms.
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 Page and the YouTube Channel.
Ends/Tuesday, January 17, 2017
Issued at HKT 18:34