Truth Frequency Radio
Dec 06, 2013

h7n9-bird-flu-hong-kong-china-asia-avian-influenza-truth-frequency-radio-chris-geo-sheree-geo-alternative-media-news-informationBy Jeffrey Ng And Chester Yung, Wall St. Journal

HONG KONG—Hong Kong is on public-health alert after the city confirmed its first human case of the deadly H7N9 bird flu, with an Indonesian domestic worker hospitalized in critical condition.

The government said late Monday the 36-year-old woman had visited the Chinese city of Shenzhen last month, and had contact with poultry there. She fell ill on Nov. 21 and was hospitalized six days later.

The government said some people with whom the woman had close contact, including the family that employs her, are showing minor respiratory symptoms and are being isolated in a hospital for observation.

Health secretary Ko Wing-man said the government has raised its influenza pandemic response level to “serious” from “alert,” and noted that the city’s Centre for Health Protection is searching for a friend of the domestic worker who had traveled with her to Shenzhen.

Hong Kong has also suspended the import of live poultry from three Shenzhen farms, and notified Chinese authorities and the World Health Organization about the case. Authorities said they would conduct visits to all local chicken farms and ensure that poultry markets adhere to infection control measures.


Whether the new H7N9 flu, a different avian-flu strain, is deadlier than the H5N1 virus isn’t yet clear. But it is more worrying than H5N1 in some ways, as flu experts said genetic changes in the avian virus suggest it may be adapting to infect mammals.

The H7N9 strain was confirmed to have made the jump from birds to humans for the first time in March, when China’s state media revealed that two people in Shanghai had died after being infected with the virus the previous month. Other deaths soon followed, prompting officials to shut down meat markets and slaughter poultry in several mainland Chinese cities amid fears of a potential epidemic. However, the WHO said earlier there has been no evidence of sustained human-to-human transmission of the virus.

The number of human H7N9 infections in China has dropped significantly in recent months. As of early November, there were 139 confirmed human cases of H7N9 and 45 deaths reported since April, according to the WHO.

Hong Kong, which is densely populated, has developed a strong system of infectious-disease control and monitoring following several outbreaks in recent years. It has occasionally detected bird flu in poultry, but there have been no major outbreaks since 1997, when the H5N1 strain killed six people and led to the slaughter of 1.5 million birds. In 2003, the severe acute respiratory syndrome, or SARS, outbreak infected 1,755 people and resulted in 299 deaths.

Since the SARS crisis, Hong Kong has set up permanent body temperature checks at all borders to better monitor infectious diseases. The border that Guangdong province in southern China shares with Hong Kong is the busiest boundary crossing in the world, with more than half a million people traveling in both directions each day.


Write to Jeffrey Ng at [email protected] and Chester Yung at [email protected]