In a follow-up on the 17th imported human H7N9 avian influenza case in Hong Kong, and the first of this winter, the Centre for Health Protection (CHP) reported the patient died on Christmas.

Hong Kong/CIA
Hong Kong/CIA

The 75-year-old man traveled to Changping, Dongguan alone on November 28 and attended a hospital there for chest discomfort on December 8. He returned to Hong Kong was admitted to North District Hospital on Dec. 9 for cough with sputum, shortness of breath, runny nose and chest discomfort.

Among the close contacts, a healthcare worker of North District Hospital with mild symptoms reported Dec. 22 tested negative for influenza virus. A relevant in-patient with mild symptoms tested negative for influenza virus. Regarding the other contacts, a relevant in-patient with mild symptoms tested negative for influenza virus.

According to the Hong Kong Centre for Health Protection (CHP), avian influenza is caused by those influenza viruses that mainly affect birds and poultry, such as chickens or ducks. Clinical presentation of avian influenza in humans includes eye infection (conjunctivitis), flu-like symptoms (e.g. fever, cough, sore throat, muscle aches) or severe respiratory illness (e.g. chest infection). The incubation period ranges from 7 to 10 days. The more virulent forms can result in respiratory failure, multi-organ failure and even death.

People mainly become infected with avian influenza through close contact with infected birds and poultry (live or dead) or their droppings. Human-to-human transmission is inefficient. People in close contact with poultry are more susceptible to contracting avian flu. The elderly, children and people with chronic illness have a higher risk of developing complications such as bronchitis and chest infection.