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First Confirmed Case of Bird Flu in Hong Kong

Update Date: Dec 03, 2013 09:30 AM EST

The bird flu, H7N9 that was circulating in Mainland China earlier this year has reappeared as Hong Kong announces it first confirm case of the avian influenza in a worker. The worker, who is originally from Indonesia, had reportedly travelled to Shenzhen located in Mainland China. At Shenzhen, officials believe that she came into contact with live poultry. The woman, 36, is now in critical condition.

"[The woman] has a history of travelling to Shenzhen, buying a chicken, slaughtering and eating the chicken," Hong Kong's food and health secretary, Dr. Ko Wing-Man said according to BBC News. "She is now in critical condition at Queen Mary Hospital."

The woman was first admitted to the hospital on Nov 27 when she sought treatment for a cough and shortness of breath. Ko reported that the patient had come into close contact with four other people, who are showing symptoms of H7N9 as well. However, officials had decided to quarantine a total 17 people, with the majority of the people being related to the patient. The people will first be taken to the hospital for observation and treatment if needed.

"If those who had been in close contact don't have symptoms, we will later arrange for them to enter quarantine facilities," Ko said. The doctors will observe the people for 10 days after their contact with the patient. "Tonight, five people who were in close contact and do not show signs of infection will enter the quarantine."

The officials believe that this confirmed case could be a sign that the bird flu is capable of spreading beyond Mainland China. However, the officials are confident that the case is an imported one, which means that the virus is not circulating amongst the produce in Hong Kong.

According to the U.S Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), H7N9 affected 135 people during the springtime and killed 44. Over the course of the summer, the bird flu infection rate reduced to only five reported cases.

Hong Kong has enforced a public health alert and has temporarily suspended the import of live chickens from farms in Mainland China.

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