|H7N9 Epidemic Waves- Credit FAO - July 28th|
After reporting 10 cases last week, today China's NHFPC has notified Hong Kong of 6 additional H7N9 infections, four of which were reported on Wednesday (see Yunnan Province Reports 4 Recent H7N9 Case). Since the 1st of June, China has announced 41 cases, already making this the most active H7N9 summer by far.
Since it emerged in the spring of 2013, H7N9 has always taken a pronounced summer break, usually beginning in May and running through September.Last year a dozen `out of season' summer cases fueled a lot of speculation that the virus might be becoming more `heat tolerant', a concern that will no doubt be raised again given the level of activity in June.
While the media's main focus on this year's H7N9 epidemic has been on the record number of cases (and deaths) from H7N9 since October, the bigger story is the growing genetic diversity and geographic spread of both LPAI and HPAI H7N9 viruses (see CIDRAP Report Genetic analysis of H7N9 finds adaptations, clade patterns).
Simply put, nature's laboratory has been working working overtime in China, and doesn't appear likely to take the summer off.Hong Kong's notification statement on these latest 6 cases follows:
The Centre for Health Protection (CHP) of the Department of Health is today (June 30) monitoring a notification from the National Health and Family Planning Commission that six additional human cases of avian influenza A(H7N9) were recorded from June 23 to 29, and strongly urged the public to maintain strict personal, food and environmental hygiene both locally and during travel.
The three male and three female patients, aged from 4 to 72, had onset from June 11 to 23. Four of them are from Yunnan and one each from Guizhou and Shanxi. Among them, five were known to have 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 purchasing 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.
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