Public Health England (PHE) has reminded current travellers to China to avoid contact with live poultry, and not to visit live bird or animal markets, because of the small but ongoing risk of contracting avian influenza. A small number of human cases are being reported in the region and numbers are expected to increase.
Human cases of avian influenza arise following close contact with infected poultry or other birds and the majority of human cases in China were infected in this way. Human cases have occurred across mainland China and Taiwan, and small numbers from Hong Kong SAR residents who had travelled to mainland China. The PHE advice is:
- to avoid visiting live bird and animal markets and poultry farms
- to avoid contact with animal waste or untreated bird feathers
- not to eat or handle undercooked or raw poultry, for example, duck dishes
- not to pick up or touch dead or dying birds
- not to bring any poultry products back to the UK
- to wash hands regularly with soap, or to use alcohol-based hand rubs
UK-based travellers experiencing flu-like illness within 10 days of returning from these areas are advised to mention their recent travel when contacting their GP or NHS 24. The PHE advice was published in the Health Protection Report.
Advice for public health professionals investigating putative cases among returning travellers has also been published on TRAVAX (for health professionals) while fitfortravel (for the general public) features an advice leaflet for travellers.