For the second time in less than a week, China health officials are reporting a confirmed human case of avian influenza A(H5N6).

The patient, according to the Health and Family Planning Commission of Guangdong Province, is a 40-year-old woman in Zhaoqing. She is currently hospitalized for treatment and in a critical condition.

Public domain image/Ben Rudiak-Gould
Public domain image/Ben Rudiak-Gould

On Dec. 29, provincial health officials reported on a case in a 26-year-old woman from Bao’an, Shenzhen.

In May 2014, China formally confirmed the first human infection with an H5N6 avian influenza virus in  a 49-year-old male in Sichuan province who was hospitalized with severe pneumonia and died.

Since that time, at least five human infections have been documented, several resulting in death.

Neighboring health officials in Hong Kong warned the public and travelers to the area:

“Locally, we will remain vigilant and work closely with the World Health Organization and relevant health authorities to monitor the latest developments.”

“In view of cases confirmed on the Mainland, members of the public should maintain good personal, food and environmental hygiene at all times during travel,” A Centers for Health Protection (CHP) spokesman urged.

“All boundary control points have implemented disease prevention and control measures. Thermal imaging systems are in place for body temperature checks of inbound travelers. Suspected cases will be immediately referred to public hospitals for follow-up investigation,” the spokesman added.

Regarding health education for travelers, the display of posters and broadcast of health messages in departure and arrival halls, environmental health inspection and provision of regular updates to the travel industry via meetings and correspondence are proceeding.

Travelers, especially those returning from avian influenza-affected areas with fever or respiratory symptoms, should immediately wear masks, seek medical attention and reveal their travel history to doctors. Healthcare professionals should pay special attention to patients who might have had contact with poultry, birds or their droppings in affected areas.