Market visitor dies of bird flu

Local | Carain Yeung 28 Dec 2016

A 75-year-old man who caught H7N9 bird flu after visiting a wet market in Guangdong died on Christmas Day, the Centre for Health Protection said yesterday.

The man, who had a chronic illness, visited Changping, Dongguan, late last month where he bought dressed chicken. Then he began coughing, with shortness of breath, runny nose and chest discomfort. He was admitted to North District Hospital when he returned to Hong Kong on December 9.

On December 17, he developed fever and was confirmed positive for the flu strain two days later, becoming the first such patient this winter.

His condition deteriorated last Wednesday and he died on Christmas Day.

Earlier, 74 close contacts and 151 other contacts were identified. Two health-care workers and an inpatient at the hospital tested negative for the bird flu virus.

Separately, a six-year-old boy developed serious flu complications and is in a critical condition in the pediatric intensive care unit of Tuen Mun Hospital.

His mother accused doctors of delaying the prescription of Tamiflu as he was given the pill five hours after he was admitted to the hospital.

She told Chinese media her boy has been diagnosed with encephalitis.

"Why didn't the hospital prescribe Tamiflu five hours earlier? Why didn't they call in experts right at the beginning? They underestimated his condition when he was admitted to the hospital," the mother said.

A spokesman for the hospital said the boy visited the casualty ward at about 4.30am last Thursday with symptoms of high fever, coughing and vomiting.

The boy received a brain scan at about 5am and his condition was analyzed by specialists in pediatric and emergency medicine.

He was prescribed antibiotics and fever medication and transferred to the isolation ward.

Three hours later, his condition deteriorated. He was then given Tamiflu and test results came out positive for influenza A virus.

The spokesman stressed that the team of pediatricians, including neurologists, have been keeping close watch on the boy, providing appropriate treatment.

Latest data showed that the flu activity between December 11 and 17 was similar to the previous week.

But demand for public emergency medical services remained high.

There were 5,824 accident and emergency unit first attendances and an average inpatient-occupancy rate of 101 percent on Boxing Day.

Ten hospitals had a 100 percent rate, with the Prince of Wales Hospital at 118 percent, followed by United Christian Hospital at 111 percent and Queen Elizabeth Hospital at 106 percent.

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