Hong Kong AI warning as human case now critical

By Rod Addy

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Hygiene Poultry

The CHP is urging the public to avoid touching poultry, birds, animals or their droppings
The CHP is urging the public to avoid touching poultry, birds, animals or their droppings
Hong Kong has issued a bird flu warning, confirming that the condition of a man stricken by the disease in Jilin Province, north east China, is now critical.

The Centre for Health Protection (CHP) of the Hong Kong Department of Health stated today (24 April) it was closely monitoring a human case of avian influenza A(H7N9) in Jilin. It urged the public to maintain strict personal, food and environmental hygiene locally and during travel.

According to the Health and Family Planning Commission of Jilin Province, the male patient from Tonghua City, aged 34, has been hospitalised for management and his condition is now critical.

Travellers to mainland China or other affected areas should avoid visiting wet markets, live poultry markets or farms, said the CHP.

Avoid touching poultry

They should be alert to the presence of backyard poultry when visiting relatives and friends and avoid purchase of live or freshly slaughtered poultry, and avoid touching poultry/birds or their droppings. They should also strictly observe personal and hand hygiene when visiting any place with live poultry, the CHP stated.

Travellers returning from affected areas should consult a doctor promptly if symptoms develop, and inform the doctor of their travel history for prompt diagnosis and treatment of potential diseases.

They should also tell the doctor if they saw any live poultry during travel, which may imply possible exposure to contaminated environments, the CHP said. This would enable the doctor to assess the possibility of AI and arrange necessary investigations and appropriate treatment in a timely manner.

While local surveillance, prevention and control measures were in place, the CHP said it would remain vigilant and work closely with the World Health Organization and relevant health authorities to monitor the latest developments.

Health surveillance

The CHP’s Port Health Office conducts health surveillance measures at all boundary control points. Thermal imaging systems are in place for body temperature checks on inbound travellers. Suspected cases would be immediately referred to public hospitals for follow-up, it said.

The display of posters and broadcasting of health messages in departure and arrival halls, as health education for travellers, is underway. The travel industry and other stakeholders would be regularly updated on the latest information.

The CHP urged the public to maintain strict personal, hand, food and environmental hygiene and take heed of the advice below while handling poultry:

• Avoid touching poultry, birds, animals or their droppings;
• When buying live chickens, do not touch them and their droppings;
• Do not blow at their bottoms;
• Wash eggs with detergent if soiled with faecal matter and cook and consume them immediately;
• Always wash hands thoroughly with soap and water after handling chickens and eggs;
• Cook eggs well until the white and yolk become firm;
• Do not eat raw eggs or dip cooked food into any sauce with raw eggs;
• Poultry should be cooked thoroughly. If there is pinkish juice running from the cooked poultry or the middle part of its bone is still red, the poultry should be cooked again until fully done;
• Wash hands frequently, especially before touching the mouth, nose or eyes, before handling food or eating, and after going to the toilet, touching public installations or equipment such as escalator handrails, elevator control panels or door knobs, or when hands are dirtied by respiratory secretions after coughing or sneezing; and
• Wear a mask if fever or respiratory symptoms develop, when going to a hospital or clinic, or while taking care of patients with fever or respiratory symptoms.

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