The Department's summary of the outbreak:
As at 14 February 2014 the number of cases confirmed by the WHO is 338 including 66 deaths across mainland China, Taiwan and Hong Kong. There are still no signs of ongoing, efficient, or sustained human transmission of this virus.
Important information for GPs:
Important information for clinicians and laboratories:
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Recommendations for laboratories:
Advice to Travellers
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Advice to Australians returning to Australia from China
If you have returned to Australia from China (in particular the regions of Shanghai, Anhui, Jiangsu Zhejiang, Fujian, Beijing, Guangdong, Henan, Shandong, Hebei, Hunan, Guizhou and Jaingxi) and feel unwell with a cough, or fever or difficulty breathing, you should see your General Practitioner or present to a hospital Emergency Department. You should mention you have been to China in the last few weeks. Your doctor will have received information on the best approach to investigating whether you may or may not have been infected with the Avian Influenza A(H7N9). This involves the collection of a swab of your nose and throat plus any other specimens your doctor thinks is necessary. Your specimens will be referred to a pathology laboratory for testing and the results will be sent to your doctor.
If you are returning to Australia please note the in-flight announcements on your inbound flight. As is normal, you will be directed to seek out a crew member and/or a quarantine officer if you are unwell. In addition, and as is normal, Australian customs and quarantine officers will identify unwell passengers on arrival and seek information from them about their illness.
Advice for Australians travelling in China
The Australian Government has been monitoring the situation in China closely. At present there is no evidence that the infection is spreading from person to person. If you’re currently in China (in particular the regions of Shanghai, Anhui, Jiangsu Zhejiang, Fujian, Beijing, Guangdong, Henan, Shandong, Hebei, Hunan, Guizhou and Jaingxi),and have been close to live animal markets where birds of any kind are sold and you feel unwell with a cough, or fever or difficulty breathing, you should see a medical practitioner. If you haven’t been close to any live birds but have been close to people who have symptoms like yours, you should also see a medical practitioner to work out why you are unwell. Your doctor will have received information on the best approach to investigating whether you may or may not have been infected with the H7N9. This will probably involve the collection of a swab of your nose and throat. The Chinese authorities have put in place a system for assessing and caring for patients infected with H7N9.
What can travellers and Australians living in China do to protect themselves?
There is currently no immunisation to prevent H7N9. The source of this virus is still being investigated. Travellers and Australians living in China should follow good hand hygiene and food safety practices and to avoid contact with animals, particularly poultry.
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- Do not touch birds, pigs, or other animals.
- Avoid touching 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 sanitiser.
- 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 difficulty breathing.