9/12/2013

Hong Kong, Patient with respiratory symptoms and travel history under CHP investigation (September 12 2013)

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

Patient with respiratory symptoms and travel history under CHP investigation

The Centre for Health Protection (CHP) of the Department of Health (DH) received notification from Tuen Mun Hospital (TMH) today (September 12) of a suspected case of Middle East Respiratory Syndrome affecting a 44-year-old woman.

The patient, with underlying illness, attended the Accident and Emergency Department of TMH today for sore throat and running nose and was subsequently admitted for further management under isolation.

Initial investigations by the CHP revealed that the patient had travelled to Tunisia between August 31 and September 10, during which she had transited in Dubai, and participated in a camel ride in Tunisia. Her travel collaterals and home contact have remained asymptomatic.

Her chest X-ray is clear. She is currently in a stable condition.

The patient's respiratory specimens will be taken for preliminary laboratory tests by the Public Health Laboratory Services Branch of the CHP.

Locally, the CHP will continue its surveillance mechanism at public and private hospitals, with practising doctors and at the airport for any suspected case of Middle East Respiratory Syndrome.

"No human infection with this virus has been identified so far in Hong Kong," the spokesman said.

"We would like to reassure the public that the Government will be as transparent as possible in the dissemination of information on cases of Middle East Respiratory Syndrome. Whenever there is a suspected case, particularly involving patients with travel history to the Middle East, the CHP will release information to the public as soon as possible," the spokesman added.

Health-care workers and hospitals are reminded to maintain vigilance against Middle East Respiratory Syndrome and adhere to strict infection control measures while handling suspected cases in order to reduce the risk of transmission to other patients, health-care workers and visitors.

Recent travellers returning from the Middle East who develop severe acute respiratory infections should be tested for Middle East Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus. Patients' lower respiratory tract specimens should also be obtained for diagnosis when possible. Doctors are reminded that Middle East Respiratory Syndrome should be considered even with atypical signs and symptoms, such as diarrhoea, particularly in patients who are
immunocompromised.

Travellers should avoid contact with animals, poultry or sick people during their journeys and seek medical consultation immediately if feeling unwell.

As a general precautionary measure, they should also adhere to food safety and environmental hygiene such as avoiding undercooked meats, raw fruit and vegetables unless they have been peeled, and unsafe water. Those returning from the Middle East with respiratory symptoms are advised to wear a face mask, seek medical attention and reveal their travel history to doctors.

Pilgrims visiting the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia are reminded that pre-existing major illnesses can increase the likelihood of medical problems, including Middle East Respiratory Syndrome, during travel. Thus, pilgrims should consult a health-care provider before travelling to review the risk and assess whether making the pilgrimage is medically advisable.

Relevant health advice can be found under "Current Travel Health News" on the website of the DH's Travel Health Service (www.travelhealth.gov.hk/english/outbreaknews/outbreaknews.html ).

Members of the public are reminded to take heed of personal hygiene:

  • Wash hands before touching the eyes, nose and mouth;
  • Wash hands before eating or handling food;
  • Wash hands after using the toilet;
  • Wash hands after sneezing or coughing and cleaning the nose; and
  • Avoid direct contact with animals, birds or poultry.

The public may visit the CHP's website for more information on Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (www.chp.gov.hk/en/view_content/26511.html ) or personal hygiene (www.chp.gov.hk/en/content/9/460/19899.html ).

Ends/Thursday, September 12, 2013
Issued at HKT 18:40
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