Thursday, August 10, 2017

Hong Kong Summer Flu Declining, But Still Elevated

Credit HK Flu Express Week 31

Note: I've received several recent queries over the advisability of traveling to Hong Kong during this flu outbreak. While I personally would not be worried, I cannot offer advice to others. If you have concerns, you should discuss them  with your health care provider.


As noted last week in Hong Kong's Summer Flu Appears To Have Peaked this year's unusually severe summer flu - while it remains elevated - is now on the downward slide.  Today Hong Kong's CHP has published their latest Flu Express, which finds further declines in flu activity.

Flu Express is a weekly report produced by the Respiratory Disease Office of the Centre for Health Protection. It monitors and summarizes the latest local and global influenza activities.
Local Situation of Influenza Activity (as of Aug 9, 2017)
Reporting period: Jul 30 – Aug 5, 2017 (Week 31)
  • The latest surveillance data showed that the local influenza activity has decreased significantly from its peak in the past two weeks but still remained elevated. It is expected that this summer influenza season will last for some time.
  • The Centre for Health Protection (CHP) has collaborated with the Hospital Authority (HA) and private hospitals to reactivate the enhanced surveillance for severe seasonal influenza cases (i.e. influenza-associated admissions to intensive care unit or deaths) among patients aged 18 or above since May 5, 2017. As of Aug 9, 489 severe cases (including 348 deaths) were recorded. Separately, 19 cases of severe paediatric influenza-associated complication/death (including three deaths) (aged below 18 years) were recorded in the same period.
  • Apart from adopting personal, hand and environmental hygiene practices against respiratory illnesses, those members of the public who have not received influenza vaccine may get the vaccination as soon as possible for personal protection.

Surveillance of severe influenza cases
(Note: The data reported are provisional figures and subject to further revision)
Since the activation of the enhanced surveillance for severe influenza infection on May 5, 2017, a total of 508 severe cases (including 351 deaths) were recorded cumulatively (as of Aug 9) (Figure 9). These included:

  • 489 cases (including 348 deaths) among adult patients aged 18 years or above. Among them, 438 patients had infection with influenza A(H3N2), 21 patients with influenza A(H1N1)pdm09, 14 patients with influenza B and 16 patients with influenza A pending subtype. 186 (38.0%) were known to have received the influenza vaccine for the 2016/17 season. Among the 348 fatal cases, 159 (45.7%) were known to have received the influenza vaccine. In the winter season in early 2017, 66 adult severe cases (including 41 deaths) were filed.
  • 19 cases (including three deaths) of severe paediatric influenza-associated complication/ death. Seventeen (89.5%) cases did not receive the influenza vaccine for the 2016/17 season. To date in 2017, 27 paediatric cases (including four deaths) were filed.
Enhanced surveillance for severe seasonal influenza (Aged 18 years or above)
  • In week 31, 57 cases of influenza associated ICU admission/death were recorded (including 41 deaths), which was lower than 71 cases (including 54 deaths) recorded in week 30. In the first 4 days of week 32 (Aug 6 to 9, 2017), 37 cases of influenza associated ICU admission/death were recorded, in which 27 of them were fatal.
Surveillance of severe paediatric influenza-associated complication/death (Aged below 18 years)
  • In week 31, there was one case of severe paediatric influenza-associated complication. In the first 4 days of week 32 (Aug 6-9, 2017), no cases of severe paediatric influenza-associated complication/death were reported
(Continue . . . . )

Getting good influenza reports out of China is difficult, but we continue to see anecdotal reports in the media (see FluTrackers forum China Seasonal Flu Tracking) of crowded ERs and a large number of flu-related admissions across much of eastern China.

While reports from Taiwan and Macao indicate slowing flu activity, the CHP report provides the following on influenza activity in Southern China.
In Southern China (week ending Jul 30, 2017), influenza activity was at the summer peak and continued to increase. The proportion of ILI cases in emergency and outpatient departments reported by sentinel hospitals was 4.0%, lower than that reported in the previous week (4.1%), but higher than that in the corresponding period in 2014-2016 (3.5%, 3.6%, 3.1%). The proportion of influenza detections was 22.5%, slightly lower than 23.0% recorded in the previous week. The predominant circulating subtype was Influenza A (H3N2).

Meanwhile, reports from Australia indicate their winter flu season continues to ramp up, with reports of heavy flu in NSW and Queensland (see today's Courier Mail Flu Queensland: State Government enacts hospital management plan).

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