Hong Kong Reports First Case of Avian Flu Since 2003

Hong Kong has reported its first case of the avian influenza since 2003, and the Serious Response Level has been activated.

Hong Kong has reported its first case of the avian influenza since 2003, and the Serious Response Level has been activated.

The patient, a 59-year-old woman, has been infected with Influenza A (H5). She developed a running nose on November 2 and a fever and cough on November 5. She sought medical attention from the Accident and Emergency Department of Tuen Mun Hospital (TMH) on November 12. On November 14, she was admitted to TMH for persistent fever and productive cough with blood-stained sputum. She was diagnosed to have pneumonia and is now in serious condition.

The patient travelled to China with her husband and daughter between October 23 and November 1, during which she did not have any contact with live poultry contact and had not visited farms.

"The CHP has stepped up surveillance by testing all severe pneumonia cases for H5," a spokesman said. "The CHP is also closely liaising with the Mainland authorities and the Hospital Authority to monitor the situation." 

He advised members of the public that the best way to combat influenza infection was to build up body resistance by having a proper diet with adequate exercise and rest. 

"Good ventilation should be maintained to avoid the spread of respiratory tract infection," he said. "Members of the public should seek medical consultation promptly if they develop influenza-like illness."

A series of measures to enhance surveillance and infection control will be implemented in public hospitals and clinics. Public hospitals will closely monitor the all suspected as well as confirmed cases and enhance the existing report mechanism.  Furthermore, high-risk patients attending Accident & Emergency Departments and general out-patient clinics would be triaged according to stipulated clinical guidelines, and appropriate tests would be performed when it was clinically indicated.

Under the Serious Response Level, more stringent infection control measures will be enforced in public hospitals, which include no visiting at isolation wards unless on compassionate ground. For general acute hospitals, visiting hour is limited to not more than two hours a day and two persons at a time; for infirmary/convalescent hospitals, it is limited to not more than four hours a day and two persons at a time.  Visitors to public hospitals and clinics are required to put on surgical masks and perform hand hygiene before and after visiting patient areas.

HA will continue to work closely with Centre for Health Protection in monitoring the latest situation and keep the general public as well as health care workers updated of the development on a regular basis.

“At the moment we cannot say that there is an increase in risk of the poultry that is imported into Hong Kong because as far as our contact with the Guangdong Entry-Exit Inspection and Quarantine Bureau (GDCIQ) is concerned, there is no report of abnormality in the farms that supply chickens to Hong Kong, said Secretary for Food and Health Dr. York Chow. “But we have agreed to heighten our vigilance in terms of testing of those chickens. We will be increasing the amount of testing to about 25 percent regarding the polymerase chain reaction swabs of all the chickens that cross our border everyday and also testing of the antibodies within those chickens. At the same time, we have also raised the alert on local farms. In the next few days, our Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department colleagues will be going around those 30 farms in Hong Kong to check on the health status and obtain samples for testing."

An inter-departmental steering committee meeting was held to discuss the matter. The participating departments included the Department of Health, the Hospital Authority, the Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department, the Food and Environmental Hygiene Department, the Tourism Commission, the Education Bureau, the Social Welfare Department, the Home Affairs Department, and the Information Services Department.

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