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Travel health information for people travelling abroad from the UK

Avian Influenza A(H7N9) in Hong Kong (ex China)

09 Jan 2017

The Government of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region issued a press releaseLink on 6 January 2017 which confirmed the death of a 62 year old man who was infected with avian influenza A(H7N9), the patient died in Yan Chai Hospital (Hong Kong) on the same day. This is the third human case of avian influenza A(H7N9) in reported in Hong Kong this winter.

The man was reported to have travelled to Zengcheng district of Guangzhou in Guangdong (China). He was admitted to a hospital for treatment in Dongguan between 2 and 3 January 2017, he is reported to have discharged himself against medical advice and returned to Hong Kong on 3 January 2017.

Contact tracing has thus far identified 33 close contacts and 90 other contacts. Close contacts include the patient's family contacts as well as relevant in-patients and health care workers. They will be given antiviral prophylaxis with oseltamivir (Tamiflu) for five days, advised to wear a mask and put under medical surveillance for 10 days following their last exposure to the patient.

Advice for Travellers

During Travel

  • Avoid contact with poultry (chickens, ducks, geese, pigeons, quail) or any wild birds and the settings where they are present e.g. commercial poultry farms, backyard poultry farms and live poultry markets. Also avoid contact with sick or dead poultry and birds. Avoid contact with surfaces that may be contaminated with poultry droppings.
  • One of the most important ways of preventing the spread of infection is careful and frequent hand washing. If soap, clean water and towels are not available, alcohol hand rub can be used.
  • Do not eat uncooked or undercooked poultry or poultry products including food with uncooked poultry blood. All poultry, including eggs must be thoroughly cooked.
  • If unwell with a fever (temperature of 38°C or more), cough, difficulty with breathing, headache, sore throat, sore eyes or muscle aches, promptly seek out medical attention. The British Embassy can assist with contacting medical aid and relatives. Postpone any further travel until well again.
  • Do not attempt to live bring poultry or poultry products back into the country.

On Returning Home

  • To date, no UK traveller has been infected. The risk of infection is increased by prolonged, close and heavy exposure to the virus.
  • Pay attention to health on return home, particularly over the first 7-10 days.
  • If symptoms develop such as those mentioned above or any other flu-like or respiratory illness during this period, individuals should be advised to seek immediate medical attention. Contact the General Practitioner or NHS111 (England) Tel: NHS111 or NHS 24 (Scotland) Tel: 08454 24 24 24.
  • Before visiting a health-care setting (e.g. health centre or hospital), describe the symptoms and tell the provider that there might have been exposure to avian influenza, giving details of recent travel history.
  • Do not travel whilst unwell and limit contact with others as much as possible to prevent the spread of any infectious illness until assessed by a Doctor.
  • Follow good hygiene practices: cover the nose and mouth when coughing or sneezing, use tissues only once, disposing of them promptly and carefully, wash hands frequently.