Hong Kong enters peak season of hand, foot and mouth disease and enterovirus 71 infection
Hong Kong (HKSAR) - The Centre for Health Protection (CHP) of the Department of Health today (May 4) called on the public to maintain vigilance against hand, foot and mouth disease (HFMD) and enterovirus 71 (EV71) infection, as the latest surveillance data showed that Hong Kong has entered the peak season for both.
A spokesman for the CHP said an increased number of HFMD institutional outbreaks had been recorded since mid-March this year.
He said, "The CHP has received 78 reports of HFMD outbreaks in institutions (as of May 3). The number recorded so far in 2012 was the second highest figure when compared with the corresponding period in the past five years.
The highest figure in the past five years was recorded in 2010 with 86 reports of HFMD outbreaks for the first four months.
"The CHP has received 13 reports of EV71 infections so far this year. The majority of them involved mild symptoms and recovery was uneventful. Only one of the cases, a 3-year-old boy, had EV71 infection with neurological complications."
The spokesman said that the traditional summer peak season of EV71 and HFMD is usually from May to July.
The local activity is expected to increase in the next few weeks.
Schools and institutions are advised to report to the CHP if they suspect an HFMD outbreak. Upon receiving notification of outbreaks from these institutions, the CHP would initiate prompt epidemiological investigation and control measures, including giving advice on suspension of classes in the institution if necessary, to limit disease transmission, he said.
Certain scenarios may warrant temporary suspension of classes in an individual institution. For example, this may include the occurrence of further cases in an institution attended by a confirmed EV71 case after stepping up control measures, or the occurrence of an EV71 case with severe complications associated with an HFMD outbreak in the institution.
"The 'EV SCAN', a weekly update on HFMD and EV71 infection, had been published in the CHP website giving the latest statistics of these diseases," the spokesman added.
To prevent HFMD and EV71 infection, members of the public are urged to stay vigilant and strictly observe personal and environmental hygiene. While in Hong Kong or during travel, they are advised to:
* Wash hands before eating and after going to the toilet and changing diapers; * Cover nose and mouth while sneezing or coughing, and properly dispose of nasal and mouth discharge; * Never share personal items such as towels and eating utensils; * Clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces, furniture and toilets regularly with diluted household bleach (by adding one part of household bleach containing 5.25 per cent sodium hypochlorite to 99 parts of water); * Clean and disinfect contaminated areas or items such as toys promptly and thoroughly with diluted household bleach (by adding one part of household bleach containing 5.25 per cent sodium hypochlorite to 49 parts of water); * Maintain good ventilation; * Parents should pay attention to the health of their children and seek medical advice if their children develop symptoms of HFMD, especially if the following occurs: - Fever not subsiding - Repeated vomiting - Persistent sleepiness or drowsiness - Myoclonic jerks * Children suffering from HFMD should refrain from going to school and avoid contacting other children until they are completely recovered; and * Parents should maintain close communication with schools to let them know the latest situation of the sick children.
More information on preventive measures against HFMD and EV71 infection can be found in the website of the CHP (www.chp.gov.hk).
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