The Centre for Health Protection (CHP) of the Department of Health today drew the public’s special attention to the high activity of avian influenza A(H7N9) in Guangdong. Travellers should be on full alert and maintain strict personal, hand, food and environmental hygiene particularly in the upcoming Lunar New Year holidays.

Influenza A (H7N9) virus/CDC
Influenza A (H7N9) virus/CDC

The Health and Family Planning Commission of Guangdong Province reported that 11 human cases of avian influenza A(H7N9), with two deaths, have been recorded so far in 2017 including three from Foshan, two from Guangzhou and one each in Zhongshan, Zhaoqing, Meizhou, Dongguan, Qingyuan and Shunde.

Of note, in the first week of January, 60 out of 637 environmental samples from 21 live poultry markets in 15 cities in Guangdong tested positive for H7 virus. The positive percentage is 9.42 per cent.

The CHP is also closely monitoring an additional human H7N9 case in Hunan. According to the Hunan Provincial Center for Disease Control and Prevention the female patient, aged 36 from Hengyang and in a critical condition, had poultry exposure.

“As human H7N9 cases continue to occur in Guangdong and the positive percentage of environmental samples is substantial, we again urge the public to pay special attention to health risks of the places of visit,” a spokesman for the CHP said.

“We strongly urge the public to avoid touching birds, poultry or their droppings and visiting poultry markets or farms during travel. If feeling unwell, such as having a fever or cough, wear a mask and seek medical advice at once. Travellers returning from affected areas should consult doctors promptly if symptoms develop, and actively inform the doctors of their travel history for prompt diagnosis and treatment,” the spokesman said.