Avian influenza (H7N9 and others) in China
Updated: August 10, 2016
Travel Health Notice
Since March 2013, confirmed human cases of an avian influenza virus identified as A(H7N9) have been reported in the People's Republic of China. These cases of avian influenza A(H7N9) virus were of particular concern as they were the first reported cases of this avian influenza virus in humans. At this time, there is no evidence of sustained human-to-human transmission.
The majority of cases have occurred in neighbouring regions in eastern and south eastern China, and travel-related cases have been reported in Hong Kong, Malaysia and Taiwan. In January 2015, Canada reported two cases of avian influenza A(H7N9) in travellers who returned from a trip to China. These were the first confirmed human cases of avian influenza A(H7N9) in North America.
For the latest updates on avian influenza A(H7N9) virus, including the total number of cases and deaths, please visit the World Health Organization's (WHO) Situation updates – Avian influenza.
Many different influenza viruses are found in animals and do not normally infect humans. However, some of these viruses including H5N1, H5N6, H9N2 and H10N8, have been known to cause human illness.
The Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC) works closely with its national and international partners, including the WHO, to track all types of avian influenza activity in Canada and around the world. PHAC will continue to monitor the situation and inform the public as information becomes available.
The Public Health Agency of Canada recommends that travellers going to regions where avian influenza is present reduce their risk by following the recommendations listed below.
Consult a health care provider or visit a travel health clinic preferably six weeks before you travel.
1. Minimize your risk of being exposed to avian influenza:
- If you are travelling to an area where avian influenza is a concern:
- Avoid high-risk areas such as poultry farms and live animal markets including areas where poultry may be slaughtered.
- Avoid contact with birds (alive or dead), including chickens, ducks and wild birds.
- Avoid surfaces that may have bird droppings or secretions on them.
- Ensure that all poultry dishes are well cooked, including eggs.
2. Wash your hands frequently:
- Wash your hands with soap under warm running water for at least 20 seconds, as often as possible.
- Use alcohol-based hand sanitizer if soap and water are not available. It's a good idea to always keep some with you when you travel.
3. Practise proper cough and sneeze etiquette:
- Cover your mouth and nose with your arm to reduce the spread of germs.
- If you use a tissue, dispose of it as soon as possible and wash your hands afterwards.
4. Monitor your health:
- If you develop flu-like symptoms such as fever, cough and/or shortness of breath within 14 days after your return to Canada, seek medical attention.
- It is recommended that when you call your health care provider or urgent care facility that you inform them of:
- your symptoms,
- where you have travelled or lived, and
- if you have had direct contact with birds (for example: visited a live poultry market) or close contact with a sick person.
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