Travel tips on the prevention of avian flu

Karen Lai

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The University's Ad-hoc Group on Prevention of Avian Flu is advising staff and students planning to travel abroad during the semester break to make sure they are aware of the avian flu situation in their destinations and to consider the following travel tips put together by the University's health experts. 

 

This comes in response to the avian flu cases reported in several European and Asian countries and provinces on the mainland. In the past few weeks, there have been confirmed cases of the virus in countries such as Romania and in mainland provinces such as Anhui, Hubei, Shanxi, Inner Mongolia and Xinjiang. Human cases of avian flu infection have been reported in the mainland provinces of Hunan, Anhui, and in Indonesia, Vietnam and Thailand.

 

As a precautionary measure, the University's health experts advise staff and students to check out the following tips when they plan their trips outside Hong Kong.

 

Before you leave:

·         Check your destination to see whether any avian flu cases have been reported.

·         Consult your doctor and get vaccinated as appropriate before departure. Note that the influenza (flu) vaccination should be received two weeks before departure.

·         Make sure you are fully aware of the facts about influenza and avian flu.

·         Prepare a travel health kit containing basic first-aid supplies, medication and surgical masks, especially if you visit countries/places affected by avian flu outbreaks.

·         Check your health insurance plan or get additional cover for medical evacuation in the event of illness.  

 

During your trip:

·         Avoid crowded and poorly ventilated public areas.

·         Avoid contact with live birds/poultry and their droppings. Do not bring any birds/poultry back to Hong Kong

·         Poultry meat and eggs should be thoroughly cooked before eating.

·         Clean your hands often using soap and water or waterless alcohol-based hand sanitizers.

 

After returning, especially from countries affected by avian flu outbreaks, consult a doctor if you have the following symptoms:

 

·         Fever (>38°C), AND

·         Cough and/or sore throat, AND EITHER

·         History of contact with a case of influenza A (H5) during the case’s infectious period, OR

·         A recent (less than 1 week) visit to a poultry farm in an area known to have outbreaks of Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza (HPAI), OR

·         Worked in a laboratory where samples taken from persons or animals that are suspected to have HPAI infection are processed.

 

 

At this stage the University's Ad-hoc Group on Prevention of Avian Flu advises staff and students to be cautious, follow these precautionary measures, and take heed of further Government announcements, especially updates on the outbreak of HPAI outside Hong Kong.

 

“To be vigilant and play safe is always the rule. It's advisable to be mindful of these precautions and make contingency plans,” said Dr Angela Lau of the University's Health Centre and a member of the Ad-hoc Group. “If you develop respiratory symptoms, especially with a fever, while you are away, please seek medical advice promptly before further traveling,” she added.

 

The Hong Kong SAR Government has activated the precautionary measures at the alert response level to prevent the disease from entering Hong Kong and to facilitate timely surveillance for any local cases. The University has a diverse student body and in view that exchange students will return home or travel during the vacation, the International and Non-local Students Office has alerted non-local students of the necessary measures.

 

Staff and students are advised to visit the following websites if they are planning trips outside Hong Kong:

 

Hong Kong Travel Health Service, Department of Health

http://www.travelhealth.gov.hk/eindex.html

 

Prevention of Avian Influenza – Information for Tourists and Travelers

http://www.info.gov.hk/info/flu/eng/tourist.htm

 

 

 

 

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