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
updated 7:13 AM EDT, Fri October 17, 2014
A smuggler in Dandong, a Chinese border town near North Korea, tells CNN about the underground trade with North Korean soldiers
updated 2:54 AM EDT, Fri October 17, 2014
Yenn Wong got quite a surprise one morning earlier this month when she found out an exact copy of her Hong Kong restaurant had opened in China.
updated 11:15 PM EDT, Tue October 14, 2014
When I first came across a "virtual lover" service on e-commerce site Taobao, China's version of Amazon, I thought it was hype.
updated 9:15 AM EDT, Tue October 14, 2014
Each year Yi Jiefeng does what she can to stop China turning into a desert.
updated 10:54 AM EDT, Mon October 13, 2014
As its relationship with the West worsen, Russia is pivoting east in an attempt to secure business with China.
updated 10:29 PM EDT, Tue October 7, 2014
Aspiring Chinese comics performing in Shanghai's underground comedy scene hope to bring stand-up to the masses.
updated 12:54 PM EDT, Tue September 30, 2014
Liu Wen is one of the world's highest-paid models and the first Chinese face to crack the top five in Forbes' annual list of top earners.
updated 7:44 AM EDT, Fri October 3, 2014
Cunning wolf? Working class hero? Or bland Beijing loyalist? C.Y. Leung was a relative unknown when he came to power in 2012.
updated 7:25 AM EDT, Thu October 2, 2014
 A man uses his smartphone on July 16, 2014 in Tokyo, Japan. Only 53.5% of Japanese owned smartphones in March, according to a white paper released by the Ministry of Communications on July 15, 2014. The survey of a thousand participants each from Japan, the U.S., Britain, France, South Korea and Singapore, demonstrated that Japan had the fewest rate of the six; Singapore had the highest at 93.1%, followed by South Korea at 88.7%, UK at 80%, and France at 71.6%, and U.S. at 69.6% in the U.S. On the other hand, Japan had the highest percentage of regular mobile phone owners with 28.7%. (Photo by Atsushi Tomura/Getty Images)
App hopes to help those seeking a way out of China's overstrained public health system.
updated 8:20 PM EDT, Thu October 2, 2014
Yards from pro-democracy protests, stands the Hong Kong garrison of the People's Liberation Army (PLA), China's armed forces.
updated 7:23 AM EDT, Thu October 2, 2014
The massive street rallies that have swept Hong Kong present a major dilemma for China's leadership.
updated 3:07 AM EDT, Sat September 27, 2014
Chinese wine drinkers need to develop a taste for the cheap stuff, not just premium red wines like Lafite.
updated 9:09 PM EDT, Tue September 23, 2014
The Dalai Lama, Tibet's spiritual leader, set off a media kerfuffle this month when he spoke about his next reincarnation.
updated 10:18 AM EDT, Sun September 28, 2014
He's one of the fieriest political activists in Hong Kong — he's been called an "extremist" by China's state-run media — and he's not old enough to drive.
updated 10:57 PM EDT, Mon September 22, 2014
China has no wine-making tradition but the country now uncorks more bottles of red than any other.
updated 5:29 AM EDT, Tue September 16, 2014
Christians in eastern China keep watch in Wenzhou, where authorities have demolished churches and removed crosses.
updated 1:38 AM EDT, Wed September 10, 2014
Home-grown hip-hop appeals to a younger generation but its popularity has not translated into record deals and profits for budding rap artists.
ADVERTISEMENT