Travelling to Asia this Chinese New Year


The Health Protection Surveillance Centre advises persons travelling to Asia to avoid contact with live poultry or wild birds and practise good hand hygiene.

Persons travelling to Asia to celebrate the Chinese New Year (19 February) should be aware that avian influenza A (H7N9) is circulating in birds in parts of China and the risk of exposure to the virus can be reduced through simple precautions such as avoiding contact with live poultry or wild birds, avoiding uncooked bird products and practising good hand hygiene.

As of 10 February 2015, 571 confirmed cases of human infection with avian influenza A (H7N9) virus have been reported, all in China except for one case in Malaysia and two in Canada (all three following exposure in China). Since November 2013 there has been widespread reporting of avian influenza A (H7N9) in humans and birds in mainland China; Hong Kong SAR and Taiwan have also reported cases in people who had travelled to an area of China where H7N9 is known to be circulating.

Overall, the public health risk from avian influenza A (H7N9) virus remains very low. Travellers who become ill with respiratory symptoms within 10 days of a trip to China, (including Hong Kong SAR and Taiwan) should seek medical advice by phone from their GP and mention their travel history.

Although the risk to Irish residents travelling to the affected areas is very low, those who are planning to visit China, Hong Kong SAR or Taiwan, should minimise their exposure to birds and it is recommended that the following precautions are taken:

  • avoid visiting live bird and animal markets (including ‘wet’ markets) and poultry farms
  • avoid contact with surfaces contaminated with animal faeces
  • avoid untreated bird feathers and other animal and bird waste
  • do not eat or handle undercooked or raw poultry, egg or duck dishes
  • do not pick up or touch dead or dying birds
  • do not attempt to bring any poultry products back to Ireland
  • exercise good personal hygiene with regular hand washing with soap and use of alcohol-based hand rubs

Birds can carry a wide variety of avian flu viruses and most of these do not cause human illness. The two types of avian flu viruses currently causing the greatest concern for human health are H5N1 and H7N9. These infections are typically seen in people who have had close contact with birds. To date there has been no evidence of sustained human-to-human spread of avian flu viruses.

For more details see HPSC website: Avian Influenza - Influenza A (H7N9) virus

Also WHO website at