A news release from the Centre for Health Protection: Imported human case of avian influenza A(H7N9) in Hong Kong under CHP investigation. Excerpt:
The Centre for Health Protection (CHP) of the Department of Health (DH) is today (March 17) investigating an imported human case of avian influenza A(H7N9) in Hong Kong affecting a five-month-old baby girl.
The patient, who lives in Foshan, Guangdong but has been staying in Shenzhen in the past week, developed fever and vomiting yesterday (March 16). She came to Hong Kong with her parents last night and was taken to the Accident and Emergency Department of North District Hospital (NDH) by taxi for consultation. She was subsequently transferred to Alice Ho Miu Ling Nethersole Hospital (AHNH) by ambulance and was admitted for further management in the small hours of today.
Her nasopharyngeal aspirate tested positive for avian influenza A(H7N9) virus upon laboratory testing by the CHP's Public Health Laboratory Services Branch today.
The patient has been sent to Princess Margaret Hospital for isolation. Her current condition is stable.
The CHP's initial investigation revealed that the patient had been taken to a wet market in Shenzhen by her grandparents four to five days ago where live poultry was sold, but the patient had no direct contact with the poultry.
"The CHP's epidemiological investigations and contact tracing are on-going. Close contacts including the patient's parents and the patients who had stayed in the same cubicle with the index patient in AHNH will be admitted for testing and observation, while other contacts including relevant healthcare workers, ambulance staff, visitors, staff at Lo Wu Control Point and the taxi driver who took the patient to NDH, will also be traced for exposure assessment and medical surveillance," a spokesman for the CHP explained.
The CHP will liaise with relevant Mainland health authority to follow-up on the patient's contacts in the Mainland.
"The Serious Response Level under the Government's Preparedness Plan for Influenza Pandemic remains activated and the CHP's follow-up actions are in full swing," the spokesman said.
This is the seventh confirmed human case of avian influenza A(H7N9) in Hong Kong. The CHP will notify the World Health Organization (WHO), the National Health and Family Planning Commission as well as health and quarantine authorities of Guangdong and Macao.
Locally, enhanced surveillance of suspected cases in public and private hospitals is underway. The CHP will continue to maintain liaison with the WHO, the Mainland and overseas health authorities to monitor the latest developments. Local surveillance activities will be modified upon the WHO's recommendations.
I'm a little surprised that Shenzhen still has open wet markets. As with the Macau wet markets, H7N9 seems to be comfortable hanging out on chopping blocks. While the baby may not have come into direct contact with birds, an adult may have touched a contaminated surface and then touched her.