Hong Kong provides update on confirmed H7N9 influenza cases

The Hong Kong Department of Health provided an update on Thursday on the two confirmed human cases of H7N9 avian influenza A in Hong Kong.

A spokesman for the DH said the epidemiological investigations, enhanced disease surveillance, port health measures and health education were proceeding. The DH found 19 close contacts and 140 other contacts related to a confirmed H7N9 case in an 80-year-old male patient. The department found 17 close contacts and 230 other contacts related to a 36-year-old female patient.

Contacts of the two patients were put under medical surveillance and were offered Tamiflu prophylaxis. The DH said the epidemiological investigations into the two cases by the DH's Centre for Health Protection are ongoing.

The CHP will continue to work with the World Health Organization and enhance local surveillance over suspected cases in public and private hospitals.

"We have enhanced our publicity and health education on the prevention of avian influenza," a spokesman for the DH, said. "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 urged travelers not to visit live poultry markets in affected areas and provinces and to avoid contact with birds, poultry and their droppings. If contact is made, travelers should wash their hands with soap and water.

"Travelers, especially those returning from avian influenza A(H7N9)-affected areas and provinces, with fever or respiratory symptoms are reminded to immediately wear facial masks, seek medical attention and reveal their travel history to doctors," the spokesman said. "Health-care professionals should also pay special attention to patients who might have had contact with birds, poultry or their droppings in affected areas and provinces."

The CHP also set up a hotline for public avian flu enquiries, which received 88 calls through Thursday.