Hong Kong Finds Human H7N9 Case

H7N9 bird flu infection found in Hong Kong leading to precautions in the region

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Joseph V. Madia, MD Beth Bolt, RPh

(RxWiki News) Shortly after US health officials took the precaution of approving a vaccine for the H5N1 bird flu strain, another strain is causing concerns for a different nation.

This week, Hong Kong reported it's first human infection with the H7N9 strain of avian influenza.

Health officials are taking precautions against the disease, including halting the importation of some chickens from mainland China.

"Wash your hands often with soap and water."

According to BBC News, health officials in Hong Kong reported that an infection with H7N9 was discovered in a domestic worker from Indonesia. The patient is a 36-year-old female and is currently hospitalized in critical condition.

BBC News reported that the patient had recently traveled to Shenzhen, the closest mainland Chinese city to Hong Kong. During the trip, the patient bought, slaughtered and consumed a chicken.

The H7N9 strain of bird flu was first discovered in China during the spring of 2013, explained the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). "Most human infections are believed to have occurred after exposure to infected poultry or contaminated environments," CDC reported.

The latest update from the World Health Organization (WHO), released on November 6, reported a total of 139 human H7N9 infections, 45 of which have resulted in death.

Though WHO reported that, "[s]o far, there is no evidence of sustained human-to-human transmission," precautions are still being taken.

Close contacts of the patient have been isolated in the hospital to prevent further spread of the illness. BBC News reported that four contacts are experiencing flu-like symptoms.

According to the CDC, most H7N9 patients have first experienced a high fever and a cough. For some patients, symptoms developed into severe pneumonia, acute respiratory distress syndrome, septic shock or multi-organ failure.

BBC News reported that Hong Kong has halted importing some live chickens from mainland China as a precaution and is in a state of public health alert.

At WHO's latest update, the organization did not recommend any travel or trade restrictions based on the H7N9 influenza infections.

For US travelers to the region, CDC recommended following common sense precautions, including avoiding contact with birds or other animals, washing hands frequently and consuming poultry products that are cooked completely.

"Anyone with fever, coughing, or shortness of breath within 10 days of traveling to China should see a doctor and tell the doctor about the recent travel to China," CDC recommended.

Review Date: 
December 4, 2013
Last Updated:
December 5, 2013