Avian Influenza H7N9 (Bird Flu)

Influenza A, H7N9 is one of the strains of avian influenza (bird flu).

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There are three types of influenza viruses — A, B, and C. Only types A and B cause significant disease in humans. Strains of influenza A include A/H1N1 and the avian influenza A/H5N1.

Avian influenza viruses normally affect poultry (e.g. domesticated chicken, ducks and turkeys). Several strains of H7 viruses have also been found in birds including influenza A/H7N9.

In early 2017, A/H7N9 avian influenza was reported to have caused some cases of severe illness and deaths in humans in China. These were the first reported cases of this influenza virus in humans. 

MOH Precautions for a Potential Outbreak in H7N9 in Singapore 

At present, there has been no evidence of sustained human-to-human transmission. The Ministry of Health (MOH) will continue to monitor the situation closely for any evidence of sustained human-to-human transmission. All hospitals have been alerted and will notify the MOH immediately of any suspected cases of avian influenza.

MOH has a public health surveillance network to detect threats from infectious diseases, both locally and overseas. It has enhanced its influenza disease surveillance system so that human cases of avian influenza can be detected early. All hospitals remain vigilant and will notify MOH immediately of any suspected human cases of avian influenza.

To date, there have been no cases of A/H7N9 influenza detected in Singapore, either in humans or poultry.

AVA’s Role in Preventing H7N9 Outbreak in Singapore

The Agri-Food and Veterinary Authority (AVA) has in place a multilayered risk-mitigation approach to prevent the incursion of avian influenza into Singapore. This includes import conditions for live birds coming into the country and maintaining tight biosecurity on local poultry farms, plus a contingency plan to deal with any avian influenza outbreak. These, along with other measures, such as collaborations with overseas counterparts, help to reduce the risk of avian influenza in Singapore.

Personal Protection against A/H7N9 Avian Influenza Infection 

Basic hygiene practices and food safety measures can prevent the transmission of many infectious diseases, including A/H7N9 influenza. These include:
Avoid direct contact with poultry, birds or their droppings, and if contact is made, wash hands thoroughly with soap and water
Cook poultry and eggs thoroughly before eating
Wash hands frequently with soap and water (e.g. before handling food or eating, after going to the toilet or after coughing or sneezing)
Avoid crowded places and contact with sick people with fever
Wear a mask when you have respiratory symptoms or are feeling unwell

Travelling to China 

The World Health Organisation does not advise against travel to China at the moment as there is no evidence of human-to-human transmission of the disease. People who travel there should practise good personal and food hygiene when there, as recommended above.

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Avian Influenza H7N9 (Bird Flu)

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