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CHP investigates local case of Japanese encephalitis
     The Centre for Health Protection (CHP) of the Department of Health is investigating this evening (June 30) a local case of Japanese encephalitis (JE) and again urged the public to avoid going to rural areas from dusk till dawn when the vector which breeds in large water bodies such as rice paddies is most active.

     The male patient, aged 38 with good past health, has developed fever and headache since June 18 and was admitted to Tuen Mun Hospital for management on June 28. The clinical diagnosis was encephalitis and he has been in stable condition.

     His cerebrospinal fluid and blood samples tested positive for immunoglobulin M (IgM) antibodies against JE upon laboratory testing.

     Initial enquiries revealed that the patient had no travel history in the incubation period. He lives in Tin Shui (I) Estate, Tin Shui Wai. His home contacts have remained asymptomatic and been put under medical surveillance.

     "We are working closely with the Food and Environmental Hygiene Department (FEHD) to assess and prevent any possible spread of infection. The FEHD and the Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department have been informed for vector investigations, surveillance and control. Epidemiological investigations are ongoing," a spokesman for the CHP said.

     Officers of the CHP will conduct site visit and field investigations by questionnaire surveys at the patient's residence for active case finding and arranging blood tests. A health talk was held tonight jointly with the FEHD to deliver health advice to residents and the public.

     Persons who have been to the vicinity of Tin Shui Estate with JE symptoms should call the CHP's hotline (2125 1122) operating from 9am to 6pm this weekend for laboratory investigation or referral as appropriate.

     "We have informed the Guangdong and Macau health authorities of the case and will issue letters to doctors and hospitals to alert them to the latest situation," the spokesman added.

     This is the second JE case recorded in 2017 and the first case reported on June 9 has been classified as a locally-acquired infection. Two (imported) and two (one local, one unclassified) cases were recorded in 2016 and 2015 respectively.

     JE is a mosquito-borne disease and JE virus is transmitted by the bite of infected mosquitoes. The principal vector is called Culex tritaeniorhynchus. JE mainly occurs in rural and agricultural areas of Asia and the Western Pacific. The infected mosquito transmits JE virus to humans and animals during biting. The mosquitoes breed where there is abundant water such as rice paddies and become infected by feeding on pigs and wild birds infected with JE virus. Symptoms usually start at around four to 14 days after being infected.

     To prevent JE, the public should take general measures to prevent mosquito bites and avoid going to rural areas from dusk till dawn when the mosquitoes are most active. Travellers to endemic areas should take special note.

     The public should:

     1. Wear loose, light-coloured, long-sleeved tops and trousers, and use DEET-containing insect repellent on exposed parts of the body and clothing;

     2. Take additional preventive measures in outdoor activities:
  • Avoid using fragrant cosmetics or skin care products;
  • Re-apply insect repellents according to instructions;

     3. Special notes during travel:
  • If going to affected areas, arrange consultation with a doctor at least six weeks before travel, and have extra preventive measures to avoid mosquito bite;
  • During travel in endemic rural areas, carry a portable bed net and apply permethrin (an insecticide) on it. Permethrin should not be applied to skin. Seek medical attention promptly if feeling unwell; and
  • Travellers feeling unwell, such as fever, should seek medical advice promptly, and provide travel details to doctor.

     The public may visit the CHP's JE page, tips for using insect repellents, Facebook Page, YouTube Channel, Travel Health Service and the FEHD's Guidebook on Control and Prevention of Mosquito Breeding for more information.
Ends/Friday, June 30, 2017
Issued at HKT 20:03
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