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Joint departmental effort to tackle Hand, Foot and Mouth Disease and EV71

     An inter-departmental meeting was held today (May 27) to review the latest situation of Hand, Foot and Mouth Disease (HFMD) and Enterovirus 71 (EV71) infection in Hong Kong as well as the current preventive and control measures taken by various departments and parties against the diseases.

     The meeting was organised by the Centre for Health Protection (CHP) of the Department of Health in view of the recent increase in HFMD and EV71 activity. Participants included representatives from Education Bureau (EDB), Hospital Authority, Social Welfare Department (SWD), Food and Environmental Hygiene Department and Leisure and Cultural Services Department.

     Speaking after the meeting, the CHP's Consultant, Community Medicine (Communicable Disease), Dr S K Chuang, said departments concerned agreed that concerted efforts were important in tackling the diseases.

     The meeting also discussed further preventive and control strategies by different departments and parties, and agreed that the current criteria on class suspension at individual child care institutions/schools due to EV 71 infection would be maintained.  

     Dr Chuang said examples of scenarios requiring class suspension included occurrence of further cases in an institution attended by a confirmed EV 71 case after stepping up control measures; occurrence of an EV71 case suffering from severe complications, and the institution the child attends having an associated HFMD outbreak.

     EV71 is a viral infection usually found among young children. Most EV71 infections cause mild illness such as HFMD but a small proportion of the affected persons will develop complications.

     Dr Chuang said the CHP had recorded 32 EV71 cases so far this year, which was higher than the corresponding periods last year. The number of EV71 cases in 2007, 2008 and 2009 were 12, 98 and 31 respectively.

     She added that the CHP's surveillance data showed a continuous rise in HFMD since mid-March this year.

     "We have already put in place surveillance systems for HFMD and EV71 infections including outbreak notification, sentinel clinics, and laboratory surveillance," Dr Chuang said.

     Earlier in March and April, the CHP sent letters to these institutions to advise them about the importance of good personal and environmental hygiene in the prevention of HFMD and EV71. The CHP has also issued letters to doctors reminding them to be vigilant about the diseases.

     With the coordination of the SWD and the EDB, the CHP has organised refresher health talks for the managements of childcare centres and schools in April to enhance their knowledge of preventing EV71 infection.

     The inter-departmental meeting agreed to carry out the following measures to strengthen the prevention and control of HFMD and EV71 infection:

- The CHP, SWD and EDB will send letters again to childcare centres and schools detailing the measures they should take to prevent HFMD and EV71 infections;

- The departments concerned will launch intensified community education campaigns about the diseases via television, radio, at public venues and other channels;

- The CHP will issue letters to doctors again updating them on the latest situation and soliciting their assistance to provide health advice to parents.

     The CHP will continue to closely monitor the local situation and overseas areas.

     EV71 infection is a statutorily notifiable disease in Hong Kong. To facilitate early implementation of control measures, doctors are reminded to report to the CHP clinical cases that have severe complications possibly due to EV71.

     To prevent HFMD and EV71 infection, the public is urged to stay vigilant and strictly observe personal and environmental hygiene. While in Hong Kong or when travelling, the public is 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 bleach (one portion of household bleach adding 99 portions of water);

- Maintain good indoor ventilation;

- Disinfect toys/places which are contaminated by secretions or excreta with diluted household bleach (one portion of household bleach adding 49 portions of water);

- 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 occur:

     * Fever not subsided;
     * Repeated vomiting;
     * Persistent sleepiness or drowsiness;
     * Myoclonic jerks;

- Children suffering from HFMD should stay at home and avoid contact with other children until they are completely recovered. Parents should maintain close communication with schools to let them know the latest situation of the sick children. They should also take necessary precautions while taking care of sick children.

     More information on the preventive measures against EV 71 infection and HFMD can be found at the CHP's website (

Ends/Thursday, May 27, 2010
Issued at HKT 19:10


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