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CHP stays vigilant against Hand, Foot and Mouth Disease and Enterovirus 71 infection

     The Centre for Health Protection (CHP) of the Department of Health today (April 13) reminded members of the public to take preventive measures against Hand, Foot and Mouth disease (HFMD) and Enterovirus 71 (EV71) infection.

     While the peak season of HFMD and EV71 infection in Hong Kong is usually between May and July, a CHP spokesman said there has been an increase in the number of outbreaks in institutions since mid-March.

     In March this year, the CHP received 29 reports of HFMD/herpangina outbreaks in institutions, higher than the 10 outbreaks each reported in January and February.

     "The sentinel surveillance system based at child care centres and kindergartens has recently detected a significant increase in HFMD activity.

     "The CHP has also received nine reports of EV71 infections so far this year. The patients were aged between one and nine years old. All had mild symptoms without severe complications," the spokesman said.

     Recent surveillance revealed that EV71 isolates had no significant genetic changes, he added.

     "Meanwhile, HFMD and EV71 infection remain active in neighbouring areas including Guangdong Province, some parts of the Mainland and some countries in Southeast Asia.

     "We will continue to closely monitor the situation," the spokesman said.

     The spokesman said the CHP today sent another round of letters to doctors, child care centres, kindergartens, primary and secondary schools to alert them to the most current HFMD and EV71 infection situation and provide advice on prevention and control.

     Similar letters had been issued on March 25 to remind them of the approach of the peak season for these diseases.

     Health talks for institutions are being arranged this month in collaboration with Education Bureau and Social Welfare Department to strengthen their capacity for preventing and controlling HFMD and EV71 infection, the spokesman added.

     The weekly "EV SCAN" has been published on the CHP website ( to summarise the latest statistics for HFMD and EV71 infection.

     As HFMD and EV71 infection is common in Hong Kong and Southeast Asia, the spokesman reminded the public to strictly observe personal and environmental hygiene while in Hong Kong and during travel to prevent infection.

     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 bleach and water in 1:99 concentration (one part household bleach to 99 parts water);
* Disinfect toys/places which are contaminated by secretions or excreta with household bleach and water at 1:49 concentration;
* 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 does not subside
  - Repeated vomiting
  - Persistent sleepiness or drowsiness
  - Myoclonic jerks
* Children suffering from HFMD should refrain from going to school and avoid contact with other children until they recover completely; and
* Parents should maintain close communication with schools to let them know the latest situation of the sick children.

     More information on EV71 and HFMD can be found on the CHP website.

Ends/Tuesday, April 13, 2010
Issued at HKT 18:02


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