Hong Kong Woman Confirmed With Bird Flu, Concerns Of Possible Epidemic

Bird flu has raised its ugly head in Hong Kong this week, after a woman was confirmed to be suffering from the deadly H7N9 flu strain. According to the government, this is the first confirmed case of bird flu in the city this winter.

The unnamed 68-year-old woman was admitted to an area hospital Thursday after first experiencing symptoms on December 19. According to the Hong Kong government, the case is classified as “imported,” as it seems the woman had recently returned from the Longgang district of Shenzhen in mainland China. Shenzhen is the location of the first human case of the deadly bird flu strain, reported back in March 2013.

Apparently, the woman was not exposed to live poultry, but did eat “home cooked” chicken during her stay in Shenzen. Government officials are now endeavoring to track down the woman’s friends, who may have also been exposed to the virus.

According to the World Health Organization, the first known human case of the H7N9 bird flu strain was reported during March 2013, and subsequently spread to Hong Kong in December of that year, killing three people. Hong Kong’s Center for Health Protection (CHP) said all patients had reportedly contracted the virus in mainland China.

Reuters tried to contact officials at Hong Kong’s Health and Food and Environmental Health Departments for comment on the situation, but without success.

In the meantime, hospitals in Hong Kong are introducing measures to both monitor and contain cases of influenza, even cutting down on visiting hours in an effort to control matters. The crackdown occurred after the Hong Kong government raised the influenza pandemic response level in the city to “serious.”

ABC News reports that back in January 2014, authorities in Hong Kong slaughtered 20,000 chickens after finding the virus in poultry imported from Guangdong in southern China. Officials then imposed a four-month ban on live poultry imports from mainland China, in an effort to guard against the deadly flu.

The influenza pandemic level in the city will not, apparently, affect the import of poultry for now, as officials have introduced “rapid testing” to check incoming birds for the virus. However, a spokesman did say they will closely monitor the situation and take appropriate measures as needed.

According to CHP, there have been 469 reported cases of H7N9 in mainland China since the first human infection was reported in 2013.

In rather different news from Hong Kong, the Inquisitr reports that an accidental spill of millions of dollars occurred when three plastic cash boxes fell from a money transport van in a busy street. Shoppers went into free-for-all mode, trying to grab as much free cash as possible, until authorities got matters under control.

[Image: CDC photo in the public domain]