Avian flu infection in Hong Kong

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For the first time, an avian flu infection was diagnosed in Hong Kong: for almost seven years, another person in Hong Kong has been demonstrably infected with the bird flu virus. The local health authorities said on Thursday that the 59-year-old woman was ill after a trip to China and that her health was worrying.

After first outbreaks of major outbreaks in several countries in the Southeast and East Asia region in 1997 and then between December 2003 and summer 2004, no one has been infected with the bird flu virus in Hong Kong in recent years. Now, however, the health authorities in the autonomous southern Chinese special administrative region have raised the alarm level in view of the new case. Accordingly, there is an "increased health risk" for infection with the deadly bird flu virus.

Avian influenza virus found in 59-year-old woman According to the health authorities, the virus was diagnosed in the 59-year-old woman shortly after her return from a trip within China. Initially, the treating physicians assumed pneumonia, but during the course of the examination they found the H5 virus in the patient. Her health is so critical that she was admitted to the Princess Margaret Hospital's isolation ward on Sunday. Exactly where the woman might have been infected is still unclear. There are also no signs of virus transmission from person to person. The Hong Kong woman had traveled with her husband and daughter to Shanghai, Nanjing and Hangzhou, among other places, and she and her family had visited numerous fresh meat markets, the authorities said. However, she was also on the move in markets in Hong Kong, so that an infection in the metropolis cannot be ruled out.

Health authorities in Taiwan also warn As many Taiwanese visit or return from mainland China via Hong Kong, health authorities in Taiwan also raised the alarm level and warned of the bird flu virus. Health authorities advised on prevention and special personal hygiene and recommended travelers to stay away from markets and cattle. At the first sign of illness, the affected person should report to the authorities immediately.

302 official deaths from bird flu So far, only H5N1, H7N3, H7N7 and H9N2 have been detected in humans from the numerous existing different variants of bird flu viruses. While the last three only cause mild symptoms, the variant H5N1 is highly pathogenic. According to information from the World Health Organization (WHO), 507 people worldwide have contracted it and 302 have died. Most recently, bird flu had increased in 2006 when 55 infected people from Indonesia, 18 from Egypt and 13 from China were reported at the same time. However, it is unclear how high the number of unreported cases of bird flu infections was. The WHO believes that it is very likely that not all cases will be recorded in poorer regions. According to the health authorities, the risk of infection is particularly high in rural regions where people and animals live together. So far only one bird flu case has been reported in China this year, another fatal one has occurred in Egypt and in October two people in Indonesia were infected with H5N1. (fp, 19.11.2010)

Also read:
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Avian flu viruses detected
Dangerous bird flu virus or harmless?

Image: seedo / Pixelio.de

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