DPHSS: Avian Flu Outbreak in China, the Current Situation

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Guam –  On April 1, the World Health Organization (WHO) announced that influenza A (H7N9), a type of flu usually seen in birds, has been identified in a number of people in China. Cases have been confirmed in the following provinces: Shanghai, Jiangsu, Anhui, and Zhejiang.

At this time there are 16 lab confirmed cases of H7N9 in 4 provinces of China. 6 people have died. 15 cases are among people aged 27-87 and one case was a 4-year old child who experienced a mild illness

To date there is no evidence of person to person transmission and no epidemiologic link between the cases. Most cases have had direct contract with live poultry.

This is the first time this virus has been seen in people. Symptoms include fever, cough, and shortness of breath.  Infection with the new virus has resulted in severe respiratory illness and, in some cases, death.  Chinese health authorities are conducting investigations to learn the source of the infections with this virus and to find other cases.

CDC is following this situation closely and coordinating with domestic and international partners in a number of areas.  More information will be posted as it becomes available.

There is no recommendation against travel to China at this time.

What can travelers and Americans living in China do to protect themselves?

There is currently no vaccine to prevent H7N9. At this time, we do not know the source of this virus. 

CDC is repeating its standard advice to travelers and Americans living in China to follow good hand hygiene and food safety practices and to avoid contact with animals.

Do not touch birds, pigs, or other animals.
Do not touch animals whether they are alive or dead.
Avoid live bird or poultry markets.
Avoid other markets or farms with animals (wet markets).
Eat food that is fully cooked.
Eat meat and poultry that is fully cooked (not pink) and served hot.
Eat hard-cooked eggs (not runny).
Don’t eat or drink dishes that include blood from any animal.
Don’t eat food from street vendors.
Practice hygiene and cleanliness:
Wash your hands often.
If soap and water aren’t available, clean your hands with hand sanitizer containing at least 60% alcohol.
Don’t touch your eyes, nose, or mouth. If you need to touch your face, make sure your hands are clean.
Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or your sleeve (not your hands) when coughing or sneezing.
Try to avoid close contact, such as kissing, hugging or sharing eating utensils or cups, with people who are sick.
See a doctor if you become sick during or after travel to China.
See a doctor right away if you become sick with fever, coughing, or shortness of breath.
If you get sick while you are still in China, visit the US Department of State website to find a list of local doctors and hospitals. Many foreign hospitals and clinics are accredited by the Joint Commission International. A list of accredited facilities is available at their website (www.jointcommissioninternational.org ).
Delay your travel home until after you have recovered or your doctor says it is ok to travel.
If you get sick with fever, coughing, or shortness of breath after you return to the United States, be sure to tell your doctor about your recent travel to China.

JAMES W. GILLAN
Director