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Update on Avian Influenza

Hon Tony Ryall
Minister of Health

17 April 2013

Update on Avian Influenza

The World Health Organization currently considers the risk of international spread of Avian Influenza A(H7N9) low but New Zealand’s health system is ready to respond should that change, Health Minister Tony Ryall says.

“I have received a further update from the Ministry of Health on the current situation and New Zealand’s preparedness regarding Avian Influenza A(H7N9).

“The WHO is working closely with Chinese authorities in their intensive surveillance and response to a number of cases where humans have contracted Avian Influenza A(H7N9).

“Officials here have been ensuring health services are kept informed of any changes and are well prepared should the situation change.”

The current advice is that:

• there is no evidence of sustained human-to-human transmission
• WHO advises against limiting travel with China
• ESR’s National Influenza Centre in Wellington is able to test for H7N9 but no cases have been identified.

“New Zealand has a pandemic plan which can be activated quickly if needed. It is a whole-of-government plan with the Ministry of Health as the co-ordinating agency.

“Experience gained during the 2009 pandemic influenza A (H1N1) has been incorporated into this plan. Clinical and diagnostic guidance has also been sent to DHB clinicians and laboratories, and Medical Officers of Health. This includes advice around possible H7N9 symptoms.

“While preparations are well advanced and the threat remains low, we want people kept up-to-date on the situation. Information regarding avian influenza will be regularly updated on the Ministry’s website. http://www.health.govt.nz/avian-influenza

General information on prevention of influenza can also be found here: http://www.health.govt.nz/influenza

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade has also updated its advice for travellers on its Safe Travel website.
www.safetravel.govt.nz

Current advice from the World Health Organization

Latest: As of 15 April 2013, 60 cases of influenza A (H7N9), including 13 deaths have been reported in China. The cases have been reported from Beijing and Shanghai municipalities and Anhui, Henan, Jiangsu and Zhejiang provinces. The Chinese government is actively investigating this event and has heightened disease surveillance.

More than 1000 close contacts of the cases are being closely monitored, and to date there is no evidence of sustained human-to-human transmission.

WHO updates, including a weekly monitoring, risk assessment and FAQs are available at: http://www.who.int/influenza/human_animal_interface/influenza_h7n9/en/

ENDS

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