6/21/2013

CHP received notification of a human case of avian influenza A(H6N1) from Taiwan (June 21 2013)

[Source: Centre for Health Protection, Hong Kong PRC SAR, full text: (LINK).]

CHP received notification of a human case of avian influenza A(H6N1) from Taiwan

The Centre for Health Protection (CHP) of the Department of Health (DH) today (June 21) received notification from the health authority of Taiwan of a human case of avian influenza A(H6N1) affecting a 20-year-old woman.

According to information provided by the health authority of Taiwan, the patient presented with fever, coughing, headache and myalgia on May 5. She was admitted to a hospital for management on May 8 for sustained fever and shortness of breath. Her chest X-ray indicated mild pneumonia. She was discharged on May 11 and has recovered.

Avian influenza A(H6N1) virus was isolated from the patient's respiratory specimen by the relevant authority.

Information of the Taiwan authority revealed that the patient had no recent travel history or poultry exposure. Among the 36 close contacts of the patient, four of them had developed influenza-like illnesses whose laboratory tests revealed the absence of avian influenza A(H6N1) virus. The H6N1 virus, a low pathogenic avian influenza virus, is commonly found in poultry. This is the first human case globally.

"The CHP has followed up with the World Health Organization (WHO) and the Taiwan authority to obtain more information on the case. We will heighten our vigilance and continue to closely collaborate with the WHO and other health authorities. We will continue to maintain stringent port health measures in connection with the latest development," a DH spokesman remarked.

The spokesman said that avian influenza A(H6) is not a statutorily notifiable infectious disease in Hong Kong but the Public Health Laboratory Services Branch of the CHP is capable to detect this virus.

"Locally, no confirmed human cases of avian influenza A(H6N1) have been recorded so far," the spokesman stressed.

The spokesman urged travellers to avoid direct contact with poultry, birds or their droppings. If contact has been made, they should thoroughly wash their hands with soap and water. Members of the public should 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.

The public may visit the CHP's avian influenza page (www.chp.gov.hk/en/view_content/24244.html) for further information.

Ends/Friday, June 21, 2013
Issued at HKT 13:45
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