Hong Kong confirms its second case of bird flu this winter

Ben Pang

The Centre for Health Protection has warned that more cases of bird flu are expected to appear before the season is out

Ben Pang |

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The Centre for Health Protection has issued warnings for people to wash their hands after coming into contact with live poultry. Photo: SCMP

Authorities have confirmed the second imported case in Hong Kong of bird flu this winter.

A 70-year-old Hongkonger who travelled to the mainland on December 13 has tested positive for the H7N9 strain of the avian flu, the Centre for Health Protection (CHP) has said.

The man returned to the city on December 16, and was admitted this Tuesday to the Accident and Emergency Department of United Christian Hospital after he reported feeling unwell.

On Thursday tests revealed that he was positive for the H7N9 strain of bird flu and he was transferred to the isolation ward at Princess Margaret Hospital in Kwai Chung. People who have had close contact with him have shown no symptoms of the flu but have been put under surveillance. The man is reported to be in a stable condition.

The centre said the man had claimed he had not visited a wet market, but that he had passed through mobile stalls that were selling live poultry when he was in Zhongshan (Zhongshan). He had also bought a chilled chicken from a shop near a wet market in Kwun Tong on December 22, but had said that no live poultry was being sold there.

This second imported case has come after a 75-year-old man tested positive for H7N9 died in Sheung Shui on Christmas Day. He had recently been to Changping in Guangdong province.

More cases of bird flu are expected to be confirmed this winter and a spokesman for the CHP has reminded Hongkongers to keep themselves, their food and their environment clean.

“People should avoid touching birds – any poultry or their droppings – and avoid visiting poultry markets or farms if they are travelling, especially in the run up to the New Year holidays,” the spokesperson said. “If someone begins to feel unwell, and develops a fever or cough, they should wear a mask and go see a doctor right away. Travellers returning from bird flu-affected areas should consult doctors if bird flu-like symptoms develop and not lie about their travel history.”

Bird flu doesn’t commonly affect humans, but it can be transmitted when people come into contact with infected birds or their droppings. This type of flu can be more deadly than a normal bout of flu. There isn’t a vaccine, so it’s important that we take actions to prevent it in the first place. Wash your hands frequently, cook eggs and poultry thoroughly, and see a doctor immediately if you begin to develop symptoms after passing through an infected area.