Monday, February 20, 2017

HK CHP Quashes H5N6 Rumors, Takes Notice Of H7N9 Variant


Between a record number of human H7N9 cases reported on the Mainland, the recent spread of HPAI H5N6 to Korea, Japan, and Taiwan, and persistent (and unverified) rumors of  `concealed cases' circulating on social media, the residents of Hong Kong are understandably a bit on edge.

So much so that today Hong Kong's CHP issued a statement denying rumors that H5N6 patients were being treated in local hospitals.

     In response to press enquiries on rumours on human cases of avian influenza A(H5N6) and related pneumonia cases in Hong Kong, the Centre for Health Protection (CHP) of the Department of Health today (February 20) clarified that no human H5N6 cases have been identified in Hong Kong to date.
     "Globally, 16 sporadic human H5N6 cases, including 11 known deaths, have been reported so far since the emergence of H5N6 in 2014 and all were in the Mainland. While most patients visited wet markets or had contact with live poultry, there is no evidence of human-to-human transmission among their close contacts. Standard precautions against avian influenza, such as strict personal, hand, food and environmental hygiene, are key to preventing H5N6 infections," a spokesman for the CHP said.
     "All novel influenza A infections, including H5N6, are statutorily notifiable infectious diseases in Hong Kong. Doctors and hospitals are reminded that any patient with acute respiratory illness or pneumonia, or at-risk exposure (including poultry workers and those with a history of visiting markets with live poultry or contact with poultry) in affected areas in the incubation period (10 days before onset), must be managed as suspected cases and immediately reported to the CHP for prompt epidemiological and laboratory investigations, disease control and transparent announcement," the spokesman said.
     "We will continue to remain vigilant and work closely with the World Health Organization and relevant health authorities to monitor the latest developments," the spokesman added.
Ends/Monday, February 20, 2017

Hong Kong did report Environmental Samples Positive For H5N6 among  bird droppings collected late last November in the Mai Po marsh.  But so far - despite its appearance in Vietnam, Laos, South Korea, Japan, Taiwan, and Hong Kong - we've only seen human infections reported from Mainland China.

The CHP also published the following announcement, which indicates the four imported cases they've seen this year did not have the recently divulged HPAI mutation (see Taiwan CDC: January's Imported H7N9 Case Carried HPAI Mutation).

     The Centre for Health Protection (CHP) of the Department of Health is today (February 20) closely monitoring three additional human cases of avian influenza A(H7N9), including one death, in Guizhou, Guangxi and Shandong, and again urged the public to maintain strict personal, food and environmental hygiene both locally and during travel.

     According to the Health and Family Planning Commission (HFPC) of Guizhou Province, a patient aged 45 in Qiandongnan is under management. The Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region HFPC reported that a female patient aged 41 in Nanning has died, and she had been involved in selling live poultry in market before onset. In addition, the HFPC of Shandong Province reported on a female patient aged 48 in Qingdao.

     "We noted the Guangdong Provincial Center for Disease Control and Prevention reporting differences in H7N9 viruses isolated from human cases. While we will closely monitor the virus activity, genetic analysis reveals that H7N9 viruses from human cases in Hong Kong have had no significant changes so far, nor has there been evidence of resistance to oseltamivir (Tamiflu). We will continue to liaise and share gene sequences with other health authorities by established arrangements," a spokesman for the CHP said.

     There is a likely risk that environments with live poultry in the Mainland might be contaminated with avian influenza viruses. Travellers to the Mainland or other affected areas must avoid visiting wet markets, poultry markets or farms. They should be alert to the presence of backyard poultry when visiting relatives and friends. They should also avoid purchase of live or freshly slaughtered poultry, and avoid touching poultry/birds or their droppings. They should strictly observe personal and hand hygiene when visiting any place with live poultry.

     Travellers returning from affected areas should consult a doctor promptly if symptoms develop, and inform the doctor of their travel history for prompt diagnosis and treatment. It is essential to tell the doctor if they have seen any live poultry during travel, which may imply possible exposure to contaminated environments. This will enable the doctor to assess the possibility of avian influenza and arrange necessary investigations and appropriate treatment in a timely manner.

Ends/Monday, February 20, 2017

Issued at HKT 17:00

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