18 July 2008
Hong Kong Notifies Physicians to Anticipate Summer Influenza Peak
Hong Kong has some of the world’s best Influenza virologists and most experienced public health officials. Over the years they have established a clear pattern of two annual peaks in seasonal influenza cases in humans. The largest peak, as in many places in the northern hemisphere, is in the winter, typically in the February-March time frame. A smaller, second peak in seasonal human influenza occurs in Hong Kong in the summer, specifically in the June-July time frame.
The Hong Kong (HK) Department of Health’s Centre for Health Protection (CHP) issued a “Dear Doctor” letter to physicians in HK this week on 15 July advising “Vigilance against seasonal influenza”. Signed by Dr. SK Chuang this letter is posted on the government website of the Department of Health at: www.dh.gov.hk/english/useful/useful_ld/useful_ld.html
The letter states that influenza infections increased between the week ending 14 June and the week ending 5 July, with influenza A (H3N2) cases outnumbering influenza A (H1N1) and influenza B cases. Dr. Chuang also notes that an increase in the hospital admission rates for the very young (4 years of age or younger) and the elderly (65 years of age and above) have begun to rise. Physicians are reminded by the Department of Health to report respiratory diseases in institutional facilities in order to activate outbreak control measures.
Such examples of the frequent “Dear Doctor” letters from the Hong Kong Department of Health, addressing a wide range of medically related issues and posted online chronologically, is an excellent model of proactive public health communications.
Daniel R. Lucey, MD, MPH
EROne Institutes, Department of Emergency Medicine
Washington Hospital Center
Adjunct Professor of Microbiology and Immunology
Georgetown University Medical Center
Website for this posting: www.BePast.org