|H7N9 Waves Thru May 24th - Credit FAO|
With the caveat that in early April we saw a sharp drop in case reports, only to see them rise again, today's notification from China's NHFPC is the lowest weekly H7N9 total we've seen in months and hopefully signifies the long-awaited summer slowdown is at hand.
A one-week drop - no matter how steep - is far from a trend, so we'll need to see if this pattern continues.
As the FAO chart above illustrates, after the first four winter waves, H7N9 infections all but disappeared during the summer. Last year, however, we did see a small increase in `out of season' cases (see last June's HK CHP Statement On Recent Mainland H7N9 Cases).
Although summer is still expected to offer China a much needed respite this year, there are growing concerns the H7N9 virus is becoming more heat tolerant (see Eurosurveillance: Preliminary Epidemiology & Analysis Of Jiangsu's 5th H7N9 Wave) - which, if true - could see the virus eventually become more of a year round threat.
Today's notification of 9 cases, all male, aged 36 to 74 are widely scattered across 7 provinces (Beijing, Hebei, Jiangsu, Shandong, Shanxi, Sichuan, and Zhejiang) with only Sichuan reporting multiple cases (n=3).Today's notification from Hong Kong's CHP follows:
HP notified of human cases of avian influenza A(H7N9) in Mainland
The Centre for Health Protection (CHP) of the Department of Health today (May 26) is monitoring a notification from the National Health and Family Planning Commission that nine additional human cases of avian influenza A(H7N9) were recorded from May 19 to 25, and strongly urges the public to maintain strict personal, food and environmental hygiene both locally and during travel.
The nine male patients, aged 36 to 74, had onset from May 7 to 24. Three of them are from Sichuan and one each from Beijing, Hebei, Jiangsu, Shandong, Shanxi and Zhejiang. Among them, eight were known to have exposure to poultry, poultry markets or mobile stalls.
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, May 26, 2017Issued at HKT 17:33NNNN