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Hong Kong Quarantines 19People After Second Case of H7N9

Hong Kong H7N9 Influenza
A medical officer walks past a sign showing an infection control notice alert level at the Princess Margaret Hospital on December 4, 2013 in Hong Kong. Photographer: Lam Yik Fei/Getty Images

Dec. 8 (Bloomberg) -- Hong Kong health officials have quarantined 19 people who had contact with an 80-year-old man confirmed to have the city’s second case of H7N9 influenza, which has killed 45 people in China this year.

The patient is a long-term resident of mainland China who was hospitalized in the border city of Shenzhen from Nov. 13 to Nov. 29 for treatment of an underlying chronic illness, the Hong Kong government said in a statement on Dec. 6. He moved to Hong Kong on Dec. 3 and was admitted to Tuen Mun Hospital, where he tested positive for the new strain of bird flu after developing a fever, the statement shows.

The government said it will transfer the patient, who is in stable condition, to the isolation ward at Princess Margaret Hospital. It’s not yet known if he had contact with live poultry though he is thought to have eaten chicken, Hong Kong’s Commercial Radio reported yesterday, citing Ko Wing-man, the city’s health secretary.

A total of 19 people had contact with the man after he arrived in Hong Kong, including 13 patients in Tuen Mun Hospital, five relatives and one taxi driver, the report cited Ko as saying.

Seven of the 19 were moved from Princess Margaret’s isolation ward to a quarantine center at the Lady MacLehose Holiday Village in Sai Kung, the South China Morning Post reported without saying where it got the information.

Lethal to Humans

At least one person who had contact with the man had mild symptoms of an upper respiratory tract infection, the paper reported, citing Ko.

After confirming its first case of H7N9 bird flu this month, Hong Kong beefed up surveillance of travelers with fever, activating part of a pandemic preparedness plan. The novel avian influenza strain is often lethal to humans, though it doesn’t transmit easily from person to person.

Hong Kong’s Centre for Health Protection has notified China’s central government, officials in Macau and Guangdong province and the Geneva-based World Health Organization of the second infection, according to the statement.

In China, the government on Dec. 5 confirmed a new H7N9 infection, in a 30-year-old man in the eastern province of Zhejiang, according to the Hong Kong government statement. The man is being treated in a hospital in Hangzhou.

The Centre for Health Protection said Hong Kong travelers should avoid live poultry markets and direct contact with fowl in areas affected by the virus and should tell their doctors about their travel history if they become ill on returning home.

Human cases of H7N9 in China date to February and surged in April, before agriculture authorities temporarily closed live poultry markets and quarantined farms to limit human exposure. The WHO counted 139 laboratory-confirmed cases as of Nov. 6.

To contact the reporters on this story: Zijing Wu in Hong Kong at zwu17@bloomberg.net; Joshua Fellman in New York at jfellman@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Peter Vercoe at pvercoe@bloomberg.net

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