Thursday, December 15, 2011

Hong Kong-Bird flu fears for clerk #h5n1 #birdflu

Bird flu fears for clerk

Mary Ann Benitez

Friday, December 16, 2011
A school clerk who picked up a sick gull later found to have bird flu is undergoing hospital tests after suffering flu symptoms.

The woman's son, 11, who also developed a fever and cough but recovered, was also last night in isolation at Princess Margaret Hospital. The school is closed today for disinfection.
The clerk, 48, was not wearing gloves or a mask when she picked up the black-headed gull on Tuesday at Chiu Lut Sau Memorial Secondary School in Yuen Long. She put the bird in a box in the school office before it was collected by the Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department.
She developed fever, a sore throat and diarrhea the next day and consulted a doctor yesterday. The woman is in isolation after being admitted to Princess Margaret for further testing for the H5 avian influenza virus. Results are expected today.

In preliminary tests the bird, which died on Wednesday, was found to have H5. Centre for Health Protection controller Thomas Tsang Ho-fai said the chance of catching avian flu H5N1 through migratory birds is small.
"We did not notice any rise or any occurrence of human H5 cases in connection with H5 birds. The key thing is the exposure. If people are careful, if they do not pick up dead birds with their bare hands, the chance of getting H5N1 is quite minimal," Tsang said.
The woman has not traveled outside Hong Kong recently. The center has identified six people the patient was in contact with and none has symptoms of the disease.
Her son had a fever and cough on Tuesday. Although recovered, he is in isolation as a precaution. The center will assess the need for further class suspensions, a spokesman said.
An AFCD spokesman said the black-headed gull is a common winter visitor.
Four chicken farms within three kilometers of where the bird was found were inspected and no symptoms of bird flu were found among the chickens. The farms will be put under enhanced surveillance.

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