Given the fragmented way in which H7N9 cases are reported from Mainland China - often belatedly, in batches, and usually without onset dates - it can be very difficult determine how many cases have occurred, and when (see The Skies Aren't They Only Thing Hazy In China).
But based on the information provided by China's NHFPC, during this 5th epidemic wave the Mainland reported 6 cases in November, 106 cases in December, and 192 cases in January.
Seven additional cases have been reported by Hong Kong (4), Macao (2), and Taiwan (1), bringing the total through the end of January to 311 cases.
Since then, we've seen a slowdown in the number of case reports from the Mainland, particularly over the past two weeks.
On Tuesday, in their latest HK CHP Avian Influenza Report (Week 8), the number of cases for this 5th wave had reached 454 Mainland cases (+7 outside the Mainland). Today, Hong Kong reports they've been notified of another 21 cases from the mainland, bringing this year's reported total to 475 cases (+7).
While we don't expect an official tally from the NHFPC for another week, it appears - despite a slowing of reports - that February will have produced something on the order of 160 new cases.
As always, only the `sickest of the sick' - those ill enough to be hospitalized - are generally tested. How many mild and moderate cases are flying beneath the surveillance radar is unknown.
This update from Hong Kong's CHP.
The Centre for Health Protection (CHP) of the Department of Health today (March 3) received notification from the National Health and Family Planning Commission that 21 additional human cases of avian influenza A(H7N9), including three deaths, were recorded from February 24 to March 2. The CHP strongly urges the public to maintain strict personal, food and environmental hygiene both locally and during travel.
The 17 male and four female patients, aged from 10 to 77, had their onset from February 10 to 27. The cases were from Guangdong (six cases), Anhui (four cases), Jiangsu (three cases), two cases each in Guangxi and Jiangxi, and one case each in Hubei, Hunan, Shanghai and Zhejiang. Among them, 18 were known to have exposure to poultry or poultry markets.
Of note, according to the surveillance of the Guangdong Provincial Center for Disease Control and Prevention, from February 22 to 28, among 855 environmental samples collected from 89 markets in various areas in Guangdong, 83 samples from 27 markets tested positive for H7 virus, i.e. about 30 per cent of the markets in Guangdong and 9.7 per cent of the samples were positive.
Travellers to the Mainland or other affected areas must avoid visiting wet markets, live 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 of potential diseases. 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, March 3, 2017Issued at HKT 18:08