Eight-year-old boy battles severe influenza A infection

Alice Ho Miu Ling Nethersole Hospital

13th April 2024 – (Hong Kong) The Centre for Health Protection (CHP) of the Department of Health has today issued a warning following a severe case of paediatric influenza A, urging the public to enhance their vigilance and undergo seasonal influenza vaccination. This comes after an eight-year-old boy developed serious complications from the virus, leading to a diagnosis of influenza A infection compounded by meningoencephalitis.

The boy, who had not been vaccinated for the season, first showed symptoms of fever on 8th April. His condition quickly escalated the next day with the development of a cough, sputum production, vomiting, and convulsions, prompting his family to seek immediate medical attention. He was initially taken to the Accident and Emergency Department of North District Hospital and subsequently transferred to Alice Ho Miu Ling Nethersole Hospital for further treatment.

Laboratory tests at the hospital confirmed the presence of the influenza A (H1) virus in his respiratory specimens. After intensive treatment, his condition has thankfully stabilised, but the case has raised concerns about the broader community’s preparedness for the influenza season.

The CHP’s ongoing investigation has also uncovered that the child had travelled to the Mainland during the virus’ incubation period, though his close contacts at home have so far remained asymptomatic. This case highlights the unpredictable and potentially severe nature of influenza, particularly in unvaccinated individuals.