Guangdong boy in Hong Kong has bird flu
Hospitals have been put on serious alert after a boy who came to Hong Kong from Guangdong was confirmed to have caught bird flu.
The Centre for Health Protection said the two-year-old, who lives in Guangdong but was born in Hong Kong, arrived last Saturday and sought medical attention from a private clinic in Mong Kok three days after developing fever in Guangdong. He subsequently suffered convulsions and was taken to the accident and emergency department of Caritas Medical Centre on Monday, where he was admitted for suspected encephalitis. Last night he was transferred to the infectious disease centre at Princess Margaret Hospital, Kwai Chung, for isolation treatment.
A spokesman for the centre said the boy tested positive for AH5 bird flu virus. It will require further testing to tell whether the boy is suffering from the deadly H5N1 subtype of the disease.
He said the boy lived in Guangdong with his parents and maternal grandmother. How he contracted the virus was still being investigated.
As of last month, the World Health Organisation had recorded 25 human infection cases of H5N1, which caused a global health threat in 2003. The highly pathogenic strain still shows a fatality rate of 59 per cent, though decreasing from the 100 per cent in 2003 when it was first attacking humans.
The government's 'serious response level' for influenza pandemic has been activated. That means more stringent infection control measures in public hospitals, including a ban on visiting at isolation wards unless on compassionate grounds.
A telephone hotline, 2125 1111, has been set up for public inquiries.
The last bird flu scare was in January after a man who contracted the H5N1 virus died in Shenzhen, where thousands of chickens had been culled after three birds tested positive a month earlier.
Last year the UN and the WHO warned of a possible resurgence of the deadly virus after a mutant strain of H5N1, which can apparently side-step the defences of existing vaccines, was found spreading in China and Vietnam.
Types of bird flu, of which H5N1 flu is one
- H5N1 first jumped the barrier from birds to humans in 1997 in Hong Kong