Skip to main content

Hong Kong on high alert after first human case of H7N9 bird flu

By Katie Hunt, CNN
updated 7:59 AM EST, Tue December 3, 2013
Chickens roost at a Chinese poultry farm in April this year.
Chickens roost at a Chinese poultry farm in April this year.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Indonesian domestic helper in critical condition after contracting Hong Kong's first human case of H7N9 avian flu
  • The woman had recently travelled to mainland China and slaughtered a live chicken
  • Hong Kong had raised its level of preparedness for an influenza pandemic to "serious"
  • Human infections from the H7N9 strain of bird flu first emerged in Shanghai in March this year

Hong Kong (CNN) -- Hong Kong is on high alert after an Indonesian domestic helper contracted the city's first human case of H7N9 avian flu, the city's government says.

The 36-year-old maid is in hospital in a critical condition, Ko Wing-man, Hong Kong's secretary for food and health said in a statement.

The woman had recently traveled to Shenzhen, the mainland Chinese city nearest to Hong Kong, where she bought, slaughtered and ate a chicken, Ko added. Her close contacts have also been isolated in hospital.

What to know about avian flu

Ko said that Hong Kong had raised its level of preparedness for an influenza pandemic to "serious."

Human infections from the H7N9 strain of bird flu first emerged in Shanghai in March this year and within weeks more than 100 cases were confirmed, according to the World Health Organization.

Study finds evidence of first human-to-human transmission of H7N9 bird flu

However, the number of cases dropped dramatically after the closing of live poultry markets in affected areas, the WHO said. So far, there is no evidence of sustained human-to-human transmission, it added.

As of November 6, the WHO said it had been informed of a total of 139 laboratory-confirmed human cases of the H7N9 virus, including 45 deaths.

From ducks to chickens to deadly virus

Ko said Hong Kong said it had suspended the import of live chickens from three farms in Shenzhen and would inspect Hong Kong chicken farms and poultry wholesale markets.

Hong Kong takes the threat of new disease extremely seriously after Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome or SARS first emerged in the city in 2003. The outbreak went on to infect 8,096 people and kill 744 worldwide.

On Monday, Shanghai said it will suspend live poultry trading from January 31 until April 30 to prevent a recurrence of this year's bird flu outbreak, according to state-run news agency Xinhua.

CDC director: A disease outbreak anywhere is a risk everywhere

ADVERTISEMENT
Part of complete coverage on
See CNN's complete coverage on China.
updated 11:44 PM EDT, Mon July 7, 2014
With a population of 1.3 billion, you'd think that there would be 11 people in China who are good enough to put up a fight on the football pitch.
updated 2:31 AM EDT, Fri July 4, 2014
26-year-old Ji Cheng is the first rider from China to compete for competitive cycling's highest honor.
updated 7:24 AM EDT, Mon July 7, 2014
China's richest man, Wang Jianlin, may not yet be a household name outside of China, but that could be about to change.
updated 12:14 AM EDT, Fri July 4, 2014
Hong Kong's narrow streets were once a dazzling gallery of neon, where banks and even bordellos plied their trade under sizzling tubular signs.
updated 7:57 PM EDT, Thu July 3, 2014
When President Xi Jinping arrives in Seoul this week, the Chinese leader will have passed over North Korea in favor of its arch rival.
updated 7:59 AM EDT, Thu July 3, 2014
Three more officials have been given the chop as part of China's anti-corruption drive, including former aides to the retired security chief.
updated 9:05 AM EDT, Tue July 1, 2014
As thousands of Hong Kongers prepare for an annual protest, voices in China's press warn pro-democracy activism is a bad idea.
updated 12:37 AM EDT, Mon June 30, 2014
Hong Kongers are demanding the right to directly elect their next leader, setting up a face-off with Beijing.
updated 2:56 AM EDT, Tue July 1, 2014
The push for democratic reform in Hong Kong is testing China's "one country, two systems" model.
updated 7:56 AM EDT, Mon June 30, 2014
Along a winding Chinese mountain road dotted with inns and restaurants is Jinan Orphanage, a place of refuge and site for troubled parents to dump unwanted children.
updated 4:36 AM EDT, Thu June 26, 2014
CNN's Kristie Lu Stout invites Isaac Mao, Han Dongfang, and James Miles to discuss the rise of civil society in China and social media's crucial role.
updated 11:34 PM EDT, Wed June 25, 2014
Chen Guangbiao wants rich people to give more to charity and he'll do anything to get their attention, including buying lunch for poor New Yorkers.
updated 7:44 AM EDT, Thu June 26, 2014
Architects are planning to build the future world's tallest towers in China. They're going to come in pretty colors.
updated 7:47 AM EDT, Mon June 23, 2014
Anna Coren visits Yulin's annual dog meat festival. Dogs are part of the daily diet here, with an estimated 10,000 dogs killed for the festival alone.
updated 2:38 AM EDT, Thu June 19, 2014
People know little about sex, but are having plenty of it. We take a look at the ramifications of a lack of sex education in China.
updated 4:12 AM EDT, Fri June 13, 2014
Hong Kongers have reacted angrily to a Chinese government white paper affirming Beijing's control over the territory.
The emphasis on national glory -- rather than purely personal achievement -- is key.
updated 12:14 PM EDT, Mon June 16, 2014
A replica of the Effel Tower in Tianducheng, a luxury real estate development located in Hangzhou, east China's Zhejiang province.
What's the Eiffel Tower doing in China? Replica towns of the world's most famous monuments spring up all over China.
updated 8:13 PM EDT, Tue June 10, 2014
Rapid development hasn't just boosted the economy -- it has opened up vast swathes of the country, says a man who has spent much of his life exploring it.
updated 2:54 AM EDT, Tue June 10, 2014
The World Cup is apparently making a lot of people "ill" in China.
ADVERTISEMENT