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H7N9 AVIAN INFLUENZA: What You Need To Know

February 22, 2017

Most forms of avian influenza strictly affect birds, but cases of human infection have been reported recently. With recent outbreaks of bird flu around the world, cases have been recorded in at least eight provinces in China including Anhui, Fujian, Guangdong, Hunan, Jiangsu, Jiangxi, Shanghai and Zhejiang, and also in Hong-Kong and Macao.

The majority of people infected in China had direct contact with birds. There is no indication bird flu is spreading readily between people. The overall risk of infection appears to be low. Prevent infection by paying attention to hygiene and avoiding contact with birds and their environment.

Travelers to affected areas reporting H7N9 should continue to remain vigilant and observe measures recommended by the local health authorities.

What are the symptoms of illness with the H7N9 virus?

Signs and symptoms of bird flu may begin within two to eight days of infection, depending on the type. In most cases, they resemble those of conventional influenza, including:

  • Cough
  • Fever
  • Sore throat
  • Muscle aches
  • Headache
  • Shortness of breath

Some people also experience nausea, vomiting or diarrhea. And in a few cases, a mild eye infection (conjunctivitis) is the only indication of the disease.

Is there a vaccine to protect against this new H7N9 virus?

No, right now there is no vaccine to protect against this virus.

How can infection with H7N9 virus be prevented?

It is always prudent to follow basic hygienic practices to prevent infection. They include ensuring hand and respiratory hygiene and taking food-safety precautions.

  • Avoid direct contact with poultry and their droppings. If contact is made, wash hands thoroughly with soap and water.
  • Avoid live bird or poultry markets and other markets or farms with animals (wet markets).

  • Cook poultry and eggs thoroughly before eating (70 Degrees Celsius in all parts of food).
  • Avoid crowded places and contact with sick people with fever.
  • Wash your hands before, during, and after you prepare food; before you eat; after you use the toilet; after handling animals or animal waste; when your hands are dirty; and before and after providing care to anyone in your home who is sick.
  • Wash your hands with soap and running water when hands are visibly dirty; if hands are not visibly dirty, wash them with soap and water or use an alcohol-based hand cleanser.
  • When coughing or sneezing, the person should cover her/his mouth and nose with a medical mask, tissue, or a sleeve or flexed elbow; throw the used tissue into a closed bin immediately after use; perform hand hygiene after contact with respiratory secretions.

When to see a doctor?

See your doctor immediately if you develop a fever, cough and body aches and have recently traveled to a part of the world where bird flu occurs. Be sure to let your doctor know if you visited any farms or open-air markets.

Should you require further information or clarification, please contact us at 24-hour Appointment Service Center at (021) 6445 5999 or click here.

All information in this advisory is not meant to replace a physician's consultation. Please consult your physician for a medical consultation.

Resources: CDC, WHO