Bird Flu Case Pops Up in Hong Kong: First in Seven Years

By Jack Phillips, Epoch Times Staff, Nov 21, 2010 -

Bird flu has seemingly disappeared from the media spotlight over the past several years but a case was diagnosed in Hong Kong on Thursday, according to the Hong Kong Department of Heatlh.

A 59-year-old woman was diagnosed with influenza A (H5N1), developing a fever and a productive cough—the first diagnosis in seven years.

As a result, Hong Kong raised its alert level to “serious.”
On Nov. 14, she sought medical attention at the Accidental and Emergency Department of Tuen Mun Hospital.

The department said that the woman traveled to mainland China with her 60-year-old husband and her daughter between Oct. 23 and Nov. 1, and did not have contact with poultry or visit farms.

Health Secretary York Chow told AFP that “the chances of her catching it is most likely on the mainland, but you cannot rule out … Hong Kong.”

Her husband had some possible symptoms of bird flu but recovered, the department said.

In 2003, bird flu killed six people in Hong Kong, according to the World Health Organization.

The World Health Organization (WHO) noted that there have been only five countries other than China to experience human cases of bird flu, including Cambodia, Thailand, Indonesia, Turkey, and Vietnam.

More than half of the laboratory-confirmed cases of the illness have been fatal, but the illness is rare in humans. It is, however, a severe condition “that must be closely watched and studied, particularly because of the potential of this virus to evolve in ways that could start a pandemic,” the WHO states on its website.

All birds are considered susceptible to contracting the virus but many species carry it without showing symptoms. However, domestic poultry can contract a rare and highly dangerous form of the virus—H5 and H7.

The last recorded location of humans contracting bird flu was in September in Indonesia, when a 40-year-old woman was hospitalized and died. In August, a 35-year-old man from Jakarta developed symptoms and died shortly after.

- The epochtimes