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Published On: Fri, Dec 6th, 2013

Hong Kong reports second human H7N9 avian influenza case in 80-year-old man

Just a few days after the Hong Kong government confirmed it’s first human case of avian influenza A(H7N9) in a Indonesian domestic worker, The Centre for Health Protection (CHP) of the Department of Health (DH) is today (December 6) investigating another confirmed human case of avian influenza A(H7N9) in Hong Kong affecting a man aged 80.

The elderly patient, who has underlying conditions, lives in Shenzhen. He was admitted to a hospital in Shenzhen for management of his chronic illness from November 13 to 29.

According to health officials:

On December 3, he arrived in Hong Kong with his three family members via Shenzhen Bay Port Border Control Point (SBP BCP) and subsequently took a taxi there in the afternoon to the Accident and Emergency Department (AED) of Tuen Mun Hospital (TMH) where he was admitted for further management of his chronic illness on the same day.

The patient had no fever upon admission. However, he developed fever this morning and was put under isolation immediately. His nasopharyngeal swab was tested positive for the avian influenza A(H7N9) virus upon laboratory testing by the Public Health Laboratory Services Branch of the CHP today.

The patient will be transferred to Princess Margaret Hospital for isolation. His current condition is stable.

Initial investigation by the CHP revealed that his family members who had either accompanied him to or visited him in TMH have remained asymptomatic.

“The confirmed case has been notified to the World Health Organization, the National Health and Family Planning Commission (NHFPC) as well as health and quarantine authorities of Guangdong and Macau,” a CHP spokesman said.

Locally, enhanced surveillance over suspected cases in public and private hospitals is under way.

“All border control points (BCPs) have implemented disease prevention and control measures. Thermal imaging systems are in place at BCPs for body temperature checks of inbound travellers. The DH has liaised with the Auxiliary Medical Service and the Civil Aid Service to deploy additional manpower at BCPs to conduct random temperature checks using handheld devices. Suspected cases will be immediately referred to public hospitals for follow-up investigation,” the spokesman said.

“We have enhanced our publicity and health education on the prevention of avian influenza. The CHP has also sent letters to government departments and related organisations to reinforce our health advice on the prevention of avian influenza,” the spokesman added.

In a follow-up on the first case in Hong Kong, the CHP reports:

17 close contacts remain under quarantine for 10 days since their last contact with the patient. Their specimens tested negative for the avian influenza A(H7N9) virus upon preliminary laboratory testing by the Public Health Laboratory Services Branch of the CHP. During isolation, if their health conditions change, further testing and surveillance will be conducted. They include:

1. Ten home contacts (including four with non-specific symptoms);
2. A female collateral aged 33, who visited Shenzhen with the patient; and
3. Six patients in Tuen Mun Hospital (TMH) who stayed in the same cubicle with the confirmed patient (including one with non-specific symptoms).

In addition, over 220 other contacts, including two private doctors whom the patient consulted, their clinic staff, patients and accompanying relatives, healthcare workers (HCWs) of TMH, Queen Mary Hospital (QMH) and the ambulance service, and relevant hospital visitors, are all under medical surveillance.

The CHP reminds members of the public to remain vigilant and are reminded to take heed of the following preventive advice against avian influenza:

  • Poultry and eggs should be thoroughly cooked before eating;
  • Wash hands frequently with soap, especially before touching the mouth, nose or eyes, handling food or eating; after going to the toilet or 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;
  • Cover the nose and mouth while sneezing or coughing, and hold the spit with a tissue and put it into a covered dustbin;
  • Avoid crowded places and contact with fever patients; and
  • Wear a mask when respiratory symptoms develop or when taking care of fever patients.

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This negatively-stained transmission electron micrograph (TEM) captured some of the ultrastructural details exhibited by the new influenza A (H7N9) virus. Image/Cynthia S. Goldsmith and Thomas Rowe

This negatively-stained transmission electron micrograph (TEM) captured some of the ultrastructural details exhibited by the new influenza A (H7N9) virus.
Image/Cynthia S. Goldsmith and Thomas Rowe

About the Author

- Writer, Co-Founder and Executive Editor of The Global Dispatch. Robert has been covering news in the areas of health, world news and politics for a variety of online news sources. He is also the Editor-in-Chief of the website, Outbreak News Today and hosts the podcast, Outbreak News Interviews on iTunes, Stitcher and Spotify Robert is politically Independent and a born again Christian Follow @bactiman63

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