Hong Kong learns of two human cases of avian flu in China

Hong Kong's Centre for Health Protection announced on Monday that it learned of two additional human cases of avian influenza A H7N9 in China's Guangdong Province.

The Health and Family Planning Commission of Guangdong Province informed the CHP of the cases on Monday. The two cases bring the total number of avian influenza A H7N9 cases in the province up to eight. To date, 148 human cases of avian flu were confirmed in China.

The first case of avian flu occurred in a 47-year-old male poultry worker in Foshan who developed symptoms on December 25. The patient was in critical condition as of Monday. The second case occurred in a 71-year-old man living in Yangjiang. He developed symptoms on January 1 and had no recent history of contact with poultry. The man was in critical condition as of Monday.

The CHP said it would follow up with Chinese health authorities for additional case details.

"Locally, enhanced disease surveillance, port health measures and health education against avian influenza are ongoing," a spokesperson for Hong Kong's Department of Health said. "We will remain vigilant and maintain liaison with the World Health Organization and relevant health authorities. Local surveillance activities will be modified upon the WHO's recommendations."

All border control points previously implemented disease prevention and control measures, including thermal imaging systems for body temperature checks of inbound travelers. All suspected cases are referred to public hospitals for follow-up investigation.

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