Hong Kong health officials declared the first suspected case of Japanese encephalitis this year. The patient had travelled overseas during the incubation period, however, it was a short trip. Hence there is a possibility that the case contracted the infection locally. Dr Leung Ting-hung said that the Hong Kong health officials are collaborated with the Food and Environmental Hygiene Department (FEHD) as a measure to contain the infection.
As accordance to the patient’s family, the 68 years old, male patient with underlying disease, developed a fever and had poor appetite on June 23. He then developed an acute confusion on June 24. He then seek medical attention at Ha Kwai Chung General Out-patient Clinic and was transferred and admitted to Princess Margaret Hospital for further treatment. He is currently admitted in the Intensive Care Unit, and remains in critical condition.
The patient’s blood sample and cerebrospinal fluid were tested by the Centre for Health Protection’s (CHP) Public Health Laboratory Services Branch. The test revealed that the samples were tested positive for antibodies against Japanese encephalitis.
His family claimed, that the patient had journeyed to places in Guangdong, like Xinhui and Kaiping, on June 11 before arriving back to Hong Kong on June 12. As of now, none of the family members residing in the same household has experienced any symptoms. However, they have been placed under medical surveillance. The CHP is conducting further investigations, to obtain further information on his travel history, local movements and exposure.
Furthermore, the patient resides in Wah Yuen Chuen, 12 Wah King Hill Road, Kwai Chung. According to the officials, there are water streams and water bodies found within the vicinity of the patient’s residence. While Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department (AFCD) found that there are wild birds in the neighborhood, however, there are no records of wild pigs or registered pig farms nearby.
Dr Leung mentioned that the epidemiological investigations started soon after there was confirmation from the lab. The CHP also informed FEHD and AFCD to initiate vector investigation. the relevant management offices and Home Affairs Department were promptly informed to start follow up actions. Health education and investigations will be carried out in area where the patient visited.
Hence, I have to stress again on the importance of maintaining strict environmental hygiene, mosquito control and personal protective measures when visiting infected countries, especially the rural areas. Bring your mosquito repellent patches or spray, wear long sleeves and get vaccinated to keep Japanese encephalitis away. REMEMBER, prevention is better than “cure”.
By: Robert Herriman
Date: 2015, July 1