Caution against Enterovirus 71 infection and Hand, Foot and Mouth disease

     In anticipation of the seasonal rise of Enterovirus 71 (EV71) infection and hand, foot and mouth disease (HFMD), the Centre for Health Protection (CHP) of the Department of Health today (May 19) called on the public to take preventive measures.

     A spokesman for the CHP said an increased number of EV71 infections had been recorded recently. "In May (as of May 18) this year, the CHP recorded nine cases of EV71 infection, higher than the number of cases recorded in March and April, which ranged from zero to two cases," the spokesman said.  

     "The CHP has received 16 reports of EV71 infections so far this year, the patients aged from two months to seven years old. While a 14-month-old boy who had meningoencephalitis complication passed away on February 6, the other patients had mild symptoms without severe complications.

     "The CHP has also received six reports of HFMD outbreaks in institutions in May (as of May 18) while five and one HFMD outbreaks were recorded in March and April, respectively."

     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.  

     The spokesman said that the CHP had sent letters to child care centres, kindergartens and primary and secondary schools alerting them to the latest HFMD and EV71 infections situation and providing advice on prevention and control.

     Upon notification of HFMD outbreaks in these institutions, 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.

     "New issues of the 'EV SCAN', a weekly update on HFMD and EV71 infection, will be published in the CHP website starting tomorrow (May 20) giving the latest statistics of these diseases," the spokesman added.

     Letters have been issued today to all doctors on the latest situation and management of HFMD and EV71 infection in Hong Kong to enhance case detection, clinical diagnosis and management, as well as dissemination of health advice.

     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 the nose and mouth while sneezing or coughing, and properly dispose of nasal and mouth discharges;

* 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% sodium hypochlorite to 99 parts of water);

* Clean and disinfect contaminated areas or items like toys promptly and thoroughly with diluted household bleach (by adding one part of household bleach containing 5.25% sodium hypochlorite to 49 parts of water); and

* 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 subsided
- Repeated vomiting
- Persistent sleepiness or drowsiness
- Myoclonic jerks

* Children suffering from HFMD should refrain from going to school and should 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 EV71 and HFMD can be found in the website of the CHP (

Ends/Thursday, May 19, 2011
Issued at HKT 17:55