News Scan for Dec 30, 2013

H9N2 case in Hong Kong
Polio in Pakistan

Hong Kong reports H9N2 avian flu case

An 86-year-old man in Hong Kong has contracted H9N2 avian flu, the first human case involving that strain in the region in 4 years, the Hong Kong Centre for Health Protection (CHP) said today.

The man is a Hong Kong resident living in the Luohu district of Shenzhen in Guangdong province, just across Hong Kong's border, the CHP said in a press release. Guangdong is also the site of four recent H7N9 avian flu cases, and Hong Kong's only two H7N9 patients—confirmed early this month—had traveled to Shenzhen.

The man developed chills and a productive cough Dec 28 and was transferred from a border control point to North District Hospital, where he was noted to have a low fever. He was transferred to Princess Margaret Hospital for further management, the CHP said.

A sputum sample tested positive for H9N2 avian influenza by the CHP's Public Health Laboratory Services Branch. The patient had no recent contact with poultry or flu patients and had not eaten undercooked poultry, the CHP said. His home contact in Shenzhen has remained asymptomatic.

"The H9N2 virus is of avian origin and has been isolated mainly from poultry. Rare and sporadic human cases have been reported and are generally mild respiratory tract infections," a CHP spokesman said in the release. "The public should avoid contact with poultry and other birds, including chickens, ducks, and sparrows."

Hong Kong has confirmed local H9N2 cases in 1999, 2003, and 2007; an imported case in 2008; and one with the source of infection unclassified in 2009. All were mild infections, the CHP said. Hong Kong has stepped up avian flu surveillance efforts, the CHP added.
Dec 30 Hong Kong CHP news release


Pakistan confirms 5 new polio cases

Five new polio cases have been reported in the tribal areas of Pakistan as more anti-vaccination violence rocked the nation, according to a story yesterday in the country's Express Tribune newspaper.

A health official said four of the cases were from North Waziristan Agency and one from South Waziristan Agency. Patients' ages range from 10 to 24 months. None had been vaccinated, the official said.

And one polio vaccination worker was killed and two injured in two recent attacks, the story said. A child was also injured in one of the assaults.

One worker was killed and a second official injured when a man opened fire at a hospital in Peshawar. In addition, a grenade attack in Pashtunabad area on the outskirts of Quetta left a vaccination worker and a child injured.

The attacks come after a fatwa earlier this month by a prominent Islamic scholar who urged parents to immunize their children against polio and other serious diseases and said vaccinations were compliant with Sharia law. Immunization workers in Pakistan have frequently been attacked by perpetrators who accuse them of being Western spies and participating in a plot to sterilize Muslims.

The World Health Organization said Pakistan had 72 polio cases as of Dec 5, the most of any country.
Dec 29 Express Tribune story
Dec 10 CIDRAP News scan on pro-vaccine fatwa
Dec 5 CIDRAP News scan on total Pakistan cases

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