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HK CHP: China Announces 5 More Human H5N6 Cases From December

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  • HK CHP: China Announces 5 More Human H5N6 Cases From December

    HK CHP: China Announces 5 More Human H5N6 Cases From December


    On Saturday, in China: Guangdong Province Reports 1st H5N6 Case of 2022, I mentioned that China had reported a record 31 human infections with H5N6 during 2021 - but, between belated reporting and spotty surveillance - that was likely an undercount.

    Today we learn from Hong Kong's CHP that there were at least 5 additional H5N6 infections reported in December - including the first occurence in Zhejiang Province - bring 2021's number of cases to 36; 4 times greater than has been reported in any year since the virus emerged in 2014.

    First today's announcement from HK's CHP, after which I'll have a brief postscript.

    CHP closely monitors five human cases of avian influenza A(H5N6) in Mainland

    The Centre for Health Protection (CHP) of the Department of Health is today (January 13) closely monitoring five human cases of avian influenza A(H5N6) in the Mainland, and again urged the public to maintain strict personal, food and environmental hygiene both locally and during travel.

    Details of the cases are listed in the table below:
    From 2014 to date, 63 human cases of avian influenza A(H5N6) have been reported by Mainland health authorities.
    "All novel influenza A infections, including H5N6, are notifiable infectious diseases in Hong Kong," a spokesman for the CHP said.
    Travellers to the Mainland or other affected areas must avoid visiting wet markets, live poultry markets or farms. They should be alert to the presence of backyard poultry when visiting relatives and friends. They should also avoid purchasing live or freshly slaughtered poultry, and avoid touching poultry/birds or their droppings. They should strictly observe personal and hand hygiene when visiting any place with live poultry.
    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. It is essential to tell the doctor if they have seen any live poultry during travel, which may imply possible exposure to contaminated environments. This will enable the doctor to assess the possibility of avian influenza and arrange necessary investigations and appropriate treatment in a timely manner.
    While local surveillance, prevention and control measures are in place, the CHP will remain vigilant and work closely with the World Health Organization and relevant health authorities to monitor the latest developments.
    The public should maintain strict personal, hand, food and environmental hygiene and take heed of the advice below when 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 the eggs immediately. Always wash hands thoroughly with soap and water after handling chickens and eggs;
    • Eggs should be cooked 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.
    ‚ÄčThe public may visit the CHP's pages for more information: the avian influenza page, the weekly Avian Influenza Report, global statistics and affected areas of avian influenza, the Facebook Page and the YouTube Channel.
    Ends/Thursday, January 13, 2022
    Issued at HKT 19:03

    Although human H5N6 infections remain sporadic, and most likely are the result of direct contact with infected poultry, there are some cases with no known poultry contact.

    This opens the possibility of occasional human-to-human transmission, although that appears to be rare.

    H5N6 causes severe illness in the majority of known cases and has a high (40%-50%) case fatality rate. It continues to evolve (and reassort) in poultry and wild birds, particularly in China, and over the past couple of months has sparked renewed interest by health agencies around the world.
    Earlier this week, in UKHSA: Avian Flu Advice for Travellers Over Lunar New Year, we looked at concerns over this recent uptick in H5N6 infections in China, and how travel during this year's Lunar New Year holiday could exacerbate the situation.

    We'll obviously be watching the situation closely in China over the weeks ahead.
    All medical discussions are for educational purposes. I am not a doctor, just a retired paramedic. Nothing I post should be construed as specific medical advice. If you have a medical problem, see your physician.