Hong Kong's Centre For Health Protection has been notified of an additional 45 H7N9 cases on the Mainland, all reportedly with onset of symptoms during the last half of January.
While additional numbers from January may still come in, for now Hong Kong has this 5th wave of cases at a record-setting 350+ cases since November.
Cases continue to be reported (Hubei province announced having 19 cases yesterday, of which only 10 appear to be accounted for in today's report), and our assumption is that we are only learning of the `sickest of the sick' - those ill enough to seek medical care.
How many uncounted mild or moderately ill cases are out there is anyone's guess, although some early estimates suggested that surveillance was likely only picking up a tiny fraction of the cases (see BMC: Estimating The Transmission Potential Of H7N9).
Of the 45 cases in today's report, only 1/3rd reported contact with poultry - a much lower number than usual. The investigation into the 30 non-poultry contact cases continues, and so we'll have to wait for more details before drawing any conclusions.
For now - although epidemiological details from the Mainland remain very limited - we've seen no evidence to suggest sustained or efficient human-to-human transmission of the virus.
This from HK's CHP.
The Centre for Health Protection (CHP) of the Department of Health today (February 10) received notification from the National Health and Family Planning Commission that 45 additional human cases of avian influenza A(H7N9) were recorded from January 30 to February 5. The CHP strongly urges the public to maintain strict personal, food and environmental hygiene both locally and during travel.
The 31 male and 14 female patients aged from 27 to 83 had their onset from January 16 to February 1. The cases were from Zhejiang (12 cases), Jiangsu (10 cases), Anhui (six cases), Fujian (five cases), Guangdong (four cases), Hubei (four cases), Jiangxi (three cases), and one case in Sichuan. Among them, 15 reported exposure to poultry or poultry markets while the source of infection of 30 cases was still under investigation.
In addition, the CHP is closely monitoring an additional human H7N9 case reported in Yunnan yesterday (February 9). According to the Health and Family Planning Commission of Yunnan Province, a 3-year-old girl from Yunnan, who had poultry exposure in Jiangxi, has passed away. Her close contacts remain asymptomatic.
"Since late 2016, the number of human H7N9 cases reported in the Mainland hugely increased from six in November 2016 to 106 in December 2016 and 235 from January 1 to February 5, 2017. The number of cases in this wave so far has been much higher than that in the same period last winter. Cases imported from Guangdong have also been reported in Hong Kong, Macau and Taiwan," a spokesman for the CHP said.
"According to the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention, about 90 per cent of the patients reported exposure to live poultry, mostly with exposure to live poultry markets (LPMs). There was also an increase in environmental contamination with H7N9 virus as reflected by the positive rate of environmental samples collected from LPMs or other live poultry-related environments in affected provinces," the spokesman added.
In view of the current situation, 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 places 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.
While local surveillance, prevention and control measures are in place, the CHP will remain vigilant and work closely with the World Health Organization and relevant health authorities to monitor the latest developments.
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/Friday, February 10, 2017Issued at HKT 13:13
NOTE: I'm having computer problems with my (nearly new) Desktop. For now I using my backup netbook computer, which is very limiting, both for writing and for research. For that reason my blogs may be a bit `abbreviated' until I can get this sorted out.