Via the South China Morning Post: Hong Kong sees first case of H9N2 avian flu in four years. In addition to some details on the case, the story also provides some background. Excerpt:
The man arrived at the Lo Wu border crossing suffering from chills, a cough and excess sputum. He was then taken to a hospital in an ambulance. He developed a mild fever in the hospital.
More than 50 medical and ambulance workers at the hospital are now being monitored for symptoms. The man's relatives in Shenzhen had not displayed any symptoms of illness, the Department of Health said.
Both Centre for Health Protection controller Dr Leung Ting-hung and HKU microbiologist Professor Yuen Kwok-yung said that the H9N2 strain usually caused a mild infection.
The virus did not spread to humans easily and there was no evidence of human-to-human transmission, Leung said. However, the strain could be serious for the elderly and those with a weak immune system, Yuen said.
The south of the mainland had seen sporadic cases of human infection with H9N2 since 1998, he said.
In Hong Kong, where the virus was a statutory notifiable disease, seven cases had been recorded since 1999, the department said, two of which were imported from the mainland and four of which were local infections. One case was of an unknown origin.
The last case, an imported infection, was in 2009. All of the infected recovered from the virus.
Leung said H9N2 had been detected around the world.
The emergence of different strains of bird flu in humans heightened the risk of genetic swapping, which might lead to mutated viruses, Yuen said.
Increased demand for chicken on the mainland had prompted traders to pack more birds into the same amount of space in wet markets, increasing the risk of cross infection and genetic adaptation, he said. "Biosecurity measures and regulatory controls on the mainland have not caught up with increasing poultry numbers," he added.
Ho said that before Hong Kong banned wet markets from keeping live poultry overnight in 2008, the H9N2 infection rate was 5 per cent to 6 per cent. The rate fell below 1 per cent after the ban. Leung urged the public to avoid contact with live poultry and to practise good personal hygiene. He expects more cases of avian influenza as temperatures fall.