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HK Reports the First Confirmed Human Case of H7N9 Influenza; Command Center Urges Traveling Citizens to Take Precautions and Calls on Doctors to Remain Alert

  • Data Source:Ministry of Health and Welfare
  • Created:2013-12-07
  • Last Updated:2017-02-03

The Central Epidemic Command Center for H7N9 Influenza stated that Hong Kong reported the first confirmed case of H7N9 influenza yesterday (December 2). Preliminary evaluation showed that it was an imported case from Guangdong Province of China. It is the sixth case in the mainland China (including Hong Kong and Macau) since the start of autumn. Currently, the travel advice for Guangdong Province and Zhejiang Province of China is maintained at Level 2: Alert, while for other provinces and cities (excluding Hong Kong and Macau) it is Level 1: Watch. The Command Center reminded citizens planning to travel to the affected areas to keep good hygienic habits and avoid contact with poultry and birds. 

The patient is a 36-year-old Indonesian domestic helper, who lives with her employer and his five family members in Tuen Mun. She went to Shenzhen with a friend on November 17, and had killed live poultry. She had a fever on November 21, and consulted a doctor on November 25 and 26. She was hospitalized on November 27 because of ecphysesis and fever. Since dark mass was seen in the lungs, H7N9 test was conducted twice, but both showed negative results. Her condition worsened thereafter and was transferred to another hospital on November 30. After the third test, she was confirmed to have contracted the H7N9 influenza in the night of December 2. The employer and five family members were all hospitalized for isolated treatment, with mild upper respiratory tract symptoms found in four of them. The source of infection is under investigation now. Also, the friend who went to Shenzhen with the patient is being traced. Considering the clear medical history of the case, it is preliminarily determined to be a possible imported case from the mainland China. 

Hong Kong has upgraded the level of the Preparedness Plan for Influenza Pandemic to “Serious”, and immediately stopped importing live chickens from Shenzhen poultry farms. Hospitals will implement a number of control and preventive measures, including restriction of visiting hours, dividing the flow of high-risk patients, and reinforcing surveillance of suspected cases of H7N9 infection. At the same time, the measure of “no overnight stock of live chicken” has been strictly executed, inspection of chicken farms and live poultry markets strengthened, random test of wild birds continued and virus test done on poultry remains. 

Regarding H7N9 influenza surveillance in Taiwan, a total of 453 cases of H7N9 influenza have been reported since April 3; one of these is a confirmed imported case, while infection is denied for 452 cases. From June 1 till now, border quarantine has found 2,305 travelers returning from epidemic-affected areas with infection symptoms, but H7N9 infection is denied for all. 

The Command Center pointed out that this new case was the first case reported in Hong Kong, indicating the continued existence of H7N9 influenza virus in the environment and the possibility of spreading. The epidemic threat is not removed, and people are advised to stay alert. In Taiwan, implementation of monitoring and quarantine measures against the mainland China is continued, and those who have a fever and travelled to mainland China within 14 days, particularly those with history of bird contact, will be sent to hospital for treatment with the help of the quarantine personnel. Also, doctors are reminded to report patients conforming to the H7N9 influenza definition to the health authority as soon as possible. In addition, in order to strengthen management of the human-bird interface, the Command Center continues to implement and put into practice the policy of prohibiting live poultry slaughter in traditional markets. Besides, once H7N9 influenza virus is found in local poultry, the Council of Agriculture will carry out relevant animal culling action, and will also continue monitoring the epidemic among local migratory birds and poultry. 

The Command Center would like to remind citizens again not to come into contact with poultry and birds when traveling to the affected areas, particularly poultry remains. Chicken, duck and goose (including eggs) must be thoroughly cooked when they are consumed. Personal hygienic measures like washing hands should also be actually put into practice, to avoid infection. When returning to the country, travelers should inform the airline staff and quarantine personnel at the airport and harbor if they have a fever or influenza-like symptoms. If these symptoms are shown after they have returned, they should wear a mask and consult a doctor as soon as possible, informing the doctor of their travel history to facilitate the doctor to provide suitable medical service. 

For the latest information related to the epidemic and infectious diseases, please go to the “H7N9 Influenza” and “International travel information” pages on the CDC website (http://www.cdc.gov.tw), or call the toll-free public reporting and care hotline 1922. Please call disease prevention hotline 0800-001922 if your phone cannot make short-number calls.