|H7N9 Waves - Credit FAO - April 5th Update|
Hong Kong's CHP has announced their notification of an additional 14 H7N9 cases from the mainland, three less than they reported last week. Of note, this is the third week in a row the Mainland is reporting no new cases from Hong Kong's closest neighbor; Guangdong Province.
This welcomed slowdown in cases - which began in the first half of March - is likely due to the temporary closure of live poultry markets in affected regions ordered 7 weeks ago (see Beijing Orders Closure Of Live Bird Markets To Control H7N9).
Today's reports means that since October 2016, 572 cases have been reported by Mainland China (plus another 8 outside: 5 in Hong Kong, 2 in Macao, 1 in Taiwan). While we've no evidence of sustained or efficient transmission of the virus between humans, this is the largest epidemic outbreak of avian flu we've seen.
Of the 14 cases in today's report, three were from Beijing, two cases each from Hunan and Jiangsu, and one case each in Chongqing, Fujian, Guizhou, Henan, Shandong, Tibet and Zhejiang.
The report of a case from Tibet (Xizang Autonomous Region) is, I believe, the first from that far western region of China, and three cases from Beijing more than double's this year's total.
Hopefully we'll get more details on these cases in next week's Avian Flu Report.
While its impact remains primarily to the eastern half of the country, any expansion of H7N9 to the China's northern and western Provinces is no doubt a serious concern for China's Nervous Neighbors.
Three weeks ago, in FAO: Reinforcing Control Efforts Against H7N9 In China, the FAO warned:
Neighbouring countries remain at high risk, and all those that have poultry trade connections - either formal or informal - to China. A further concern is the possibility that changes seen in the H7N9 virus may affect wild bird population, posing risks to their health or turn them into migratory carriers of the virus, expanding the risk of the virus spreading further as has been seen with other avian influenza strains in faraway Europe, Africa or the Americas.
This from Hong Kong's CHP:
The Centre for Health Protection (CHP) of the Department of Health today (April 7) received notification from the National Health and Family Planning Commission that 14 additional human cases of avian influenza A(H7N9), including one death, were recorded from March 31 to April 6. The CHP strongly urges the public to maintain strict personal, food and environmental hygiene both locally and during travel.
The 10 male and four female patients, aged from 38 to 70, had their onset from March 14 to April 4. Three of the cases were in Beijing, two cases each in Hunan and Jiangsu, and one case each in Chongqing, Fujian, Guizhou, Henan, Shandong, Tibet and Zhejiang. Among them, 13 were known to have had exposure to poultry or poultry markets.
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, April 7, 2017