Sunday, March 31, 2013

Taiwan on alert against #H7N9 bird flu

Taipei, March 31 (CNA) Taiwan heightened its vigilance at its entry ports and alerted the medical professionals to be on the look out for unknown pneumonia patients after China reported two deaths from and one critical case of H7N9 avian influenza infection Sunday.

Chou Jih-haw, deputy director general of Taiwan's Centers for Disease Control, said China's Centers for Disease Control informed his centers of the H7N9 bird flu cases Sunday evening, upon which he issued a notice to all medical institutions in Taiwan as well as to all airports and sea ports.

Chou said the medical institutions have been advised to be on the alert against any cases of unknown pneumonia, clusters of pneumonia or medical workers stricken by unknown pneumonia. Hospitals and other health care facilities were told to strengthen control of infectious diseases.

In the meantime, entry port workers were asked to watch the health conditions of travelers from China, Hong Kong and Macau, tighten checks on fever-looking in-bound visitors and question their travel history. Those found to be suffering from fever should be asked to leave their contact addresses and numbers, he added.

Two men, aged 87 and 27, in Shanghai passed away on March 4 and 10 respectively. In Anhui, central China, a 35-year-old female patient came down with the virus, according to Chinese health authorities, who noted that these were the first reported cases of H7N9 human infection in the world.

Chou said China's CDC on March 29 conducted tests and confirmed that all three cases were H7N9. He quoted China's CDC as saying that all three cases presented early respiratory infection symptoms of fever and cough, and later developed into severe pneumonia and had breathing difficulties.

No link had been found between the three patients and no abnormality was detected among the 88 close contacts of three cases.

There is no vaccine against the virus at the moment.

The centers reminded the public to remain vigilant against avian influenza infection and to avoid direct contact with poultry and birds, as well as their droppings. If contacts have been made, one is advised to wash hands thoroughly with soap and water.

(By Chen Ching-fang and S.C. Chang)

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