On the 30th January 2015, it was confirmed by health officials in British Columbia that two people tested positively for Avian Influenza (AI) commonly known as Bird Flu or Influenza A.
Most Avian Influenza viruses don't affect humans, however the individuals in British Columbia tested positively for one of the kinds which can cause serious infection in humans.
The two individuals in this case became ill a day apart from each other, upon returning from a trip to China. They were diagnosed through routine testing whilst attending a general practice, suffering with mild flu symptoms. Neither required hospitalisation, yet this is the first documented case of Influenza A in humans in North America.
The following will elaborate on advice for those planning on travelling to China and how to make an appointment at Well Travelled Clinics.
Avian Influenza Since 2013
On March 31st 2013, a total of 488 laboratory confirmed cases of the infection of humans with the Avian Influenza virus, including 185 deaths, have been confirmed.
As of February 2015, the majority of these were in China, with an additional 83 cases, including 19 deaths being reported on 4th February 2015. The onset dates of these cases is said to be between 20th December 2014 and 27th January 2015.
What to Do if you are Travelling to China
There is currently no evidence of sustained human to human transmission of the Influenza. You are cadvised to follow special precautionary measures to minimise the potential exposure of the infection if you are visiting China.
The following precautionary measures are
Avoid visiting live bird and animal markets (including wet markets) and poultry farms.
Avoid contact with surfaces contaminated with animal faeces.
Avoid untreated bird feathers and other animal and bird waste.
Do not eat or handle undercooked or raw poultry, egg or duck dishes.
Do not pick up or touch dead or dying birds.
Do not attempt to bring poultry of any kind back to the UK.
Exercise good personal hygiene with regular hand washing (using soap) and use of alcohol based hand rubs.
If you do become ill with respiratory symptoms within ten days of a trip to China, do seek prompt medical advice.
What Healthcare Professionals Need to Do
Chinese New Year is on the 19th February so around this time please be aware that there will be increased travel to and from China for the next four weeks. Healthcare Professionals must bear Avian Influenza in mind when dealing with patients suffering from severe respiratory illness within ten days of returning from China. Public Health England has published Avian Influenza Algorithms and Guidance.
If you are travelling to and from China be aware of any symptoms of Avian Flu. Initial symptoms of the disease include a high fever, vomiting, abdominal pain, diarrhea, chest pain and general respiratory distress (such as a hoarse voice and crackling sound when inhaling. ) Bleeding from the nose and gums has also been reported in some cases.
World Health Organisation Response (WHO)
WHO is monitoring the situation as it progresses, so their guidelines and actions may change in accordance with their findings, so both healthcare professionals and those travelling to and from China would benefit from keeping up with these findings.
If you are travelling to China, please make an appointment at Well Travelled Clinics . We are based at Pembroke Place L3 Liverpool and Watergate Row North in Chester. For Liverpool based appointments call 0151 705 3223 or for an appointment with at our Chester Clinic call 0844 939 5600.