Hong Kong DH recommends travelers take precautions against avian flu

The Hong Kong Department of Health recently urged the public to take precautions against contracting avian influenza A H7N9 when traveling during the Lunar New Year.

"In view of the three imported human cases of avian influenza A H7N9 confirmed in Hong Kong and multiple cases reported in various provinces and municipalities on the mainland recently, the activity of avian influenza virus is expected to be higher in the winter season," a DH spokesperson said. "Maintaining good personal and environmental hygiene at all times is thus of paramount importance to prevent infection."

The DH expects the H7N9 virus to become more widespread. A severe avian influenza infection can lead to respiratory failure, organ failure and death.

The DH recommends that families who travel take precautions. If any persons traveling have flu-like symptoms, the DH recommends they stay home and do not travel, or bring face masks and hand sanitizer.

For persons who are not sick that plan on traveling, the DH recommends they refrain from visiting live poultry markets, avoid direct contact with birds, thoroughly cook all poultry and eggs, avoid large crowds and seek medical attention immediately if flu-like symptoms develop.

The DH asks that any returning travelers from the Mainland do not bring back raw meat, poultry or game without health certificates from Hong Kong, to prevent the potential spread of disease.