Prompt prevention and control measures by the Inter-departmental Coordinating Committee on Dengue Fever coupled with active community participation have effectively prevented secondary spread of the mosquito-borne disease.
The Hong Kong Special Administrative Region has not recorded any local cases of dengue fever.
The Chairman of the Inter-departmental Coordinating Committee on Dengue Fever, Dr Tse Lai-yin said today (November 16): "However, we should always remain vigilant against dengue fever, a viral infection caused by the dengue virus.
"The virus is transmitted by infective mosquitoes that bite particularly during the day. A mosquito vector that is capable of transmitting dengue virus exists in Hong Kong and is called Aedes albopictus. Dengue fever is not transmitted directly from person to person."
Dr Tse who is the Consultant (Community Medicine) of the Department of Health (DH), advised persons planning to travel outside Hong Kong, to adopt the following preventive measures to protect themselves against dengue fever and other mosquito-borne diseases:
* wear long-sleeved clothes and long trousers
* use insect repellent over the exposed parts of the body
* use mosquito screens or nets when the room is not air-conditioned, and
* avoid staying in scrubby areas.
People who return from a dengue-infected area and fall sick within one month should immediately consult a doctor and give complete travel history to facilitate early diagnosis and management.
Dr Tse said that the most effective control strategy against dengue fever was to enhance disease surveillance and control the mosquito vector.
The Food and Environmental Hygiene Department (FEHD) had stepped up its efforts during the Special Anti-mosquito Campaign held between August 31 and November 3 and conducted about 6 800 inspections throughout the territory.
Immediate elimination action was taken and some 85 800 mosquito breeding places and potential breeding places were eliminated. The FEHD also took 78 legal actions against mosquito breeding.
Apart from reinforcing mosquito control, the FEHD also put up posters and banners at conspicuous places and distributed more than 3 000 VCDs and 245 000 leaflets to educate the public the importance of taking proper preventive measures.
To spread widely the anti-mosquito message, FEHD also organised a series of exhibitions at the FEHD's Health Education Exhibition and Resource Centre as well as major shopping centres.
Moreover, talks were organised for construction site staff, pest control companies, child care centre staff and school teachers. Outreaching talks were also held for primary school students to bring the anti-mosquito message home.
Members of the public are reminded to clear stagnant water in their homes and surrounding areas to avoid breeding of mosquitoes. They should:
* put all used cans and bottles into dustbins with cover
* change water for plants at least once a week, leaving no water in the saucers underneath flower pots
* cover tightly all water containers, wells and water storage tanks, and
* keep all drains free from choke.
They are requested to report any identified mosquito problems to FEHD's hotline 2868 0000.
In addition, DH inspected the international ferry terminals but did not find any mosquito breeding sites. DH also visited the public cargo working areas to promulgate the importance of elimination of mosquito breeding sites to the site managers.
The Lands Department carried out inspection, clearance and grass-cutting at unallocated Government land sites to eliminate mosquito breeding sites.
Dr Tse Lai-yin said: "For the sporadic imported cases reported, prompt investigation and control actions, including site assessment and vector survey, to prevent secondary spread of the disease are carried out by the DH and FEHD.
"DH will continue to closely monitor the dengue fever situation both locally and in neighbouring countries and areas.
"DH issued in September a letter to all medical practitioners to inform them of the dengue fever situation to solicit their support in early notification.
The frequency of broadcasting dengue fever prevention messages at ferry terminals, the airport and border control points has been increased. DH has also solicited support from the Travel Industry Council of Hong Kong to remind its members to disseminate health messages to clients and to encourage them to take precautions during outbound trips.
The Port Health Service of DH has increased the distribution of pamphlets on dengue fever to travellers. Travel health information including information on mosquito-borne diseases is available at DH's travel health website <http://www.info.gov.hk/trhealth>.
The Information Services Department had stepped up broadcasts of TV and radio Announcements in the Public Interest (APIs) on mosquito prevention and control.
Publicity and public education materials on prevention and control of mosquitoes including videos, VCDs, leaflets, banners and posters were produced and distributed by various Departments.
The message was promulgated at the Public Enquiry Service Centres and Building Management Resource Centres of the Home Affairs Department, recreation and sports venues of the Leisure and Cultural Services Department, District Lands Offices of the Lands Department, estate and management offices of the Housing Department, District Environmental Hygiene Offices and Education Centres of FEHD, and DH's General Out-patient Clinics, Maternal and Child Health Centres and Health Education Centres.
The Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department, Education Department, Social Welfare Department and the Hospital Authority also contributed to the publicity and public education programmes.
Dengue fever is endemic in Southeast Asian countries. The tropical and subtropical weather in these countries is favourable to the propagation of the mosquitoes carrying dengue virus.
According to the World Health Organisation, dengue fever has been reported in China, Thailand, the Philippines, Singapore, Malaysia, Vietnam, Myanmar, Cambodia, Indonesia and India. The disease is also present in Australia, New Zealand, United States, Mexico and many African and South American countries.
To-date, 15 imported cases of dengue fever were reported in Hong Kong this year and all patients had recovered.
End/Friday, November 16, 2001