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Alert over increase in respiratory viral infections

     The Centre for Health Protection (CHP) of the Department of Health has today (June 8) called on the public to maintain strict personal and environmental hygiene to prevent respiratory tract infections, as the CHP's latest surveillance data has shown an increase in the activity of respiratory pathogens in recent weeks.

     A CHP spokesman said the department's Public Health Laboratory Centre (PHLC) has recently detected increases in adenoviruses and parainfluenza viruses.

     The number of adenoviruses detected in the PHLC increased from 70 in the week ending May 28, 2011 to 99 in the week ending June 4, 2011. Four institutional outbreaks of upper respiratory infections caused by adenovirus were recorded in the week ending June 4, 2011, compared with one outbreak recorded in the preceding two weeks (May 15-28, 2011). A total of 44 persons were affected in the above five institutional outbreaks.

     The number of parainfluenza viruses detected in the PHLC has also been increasing, from 233 in the four-week period from April 10 to May 7, 2011 to 316 in the recent four-week period from May 8 to June 4, 2011. A total of three institutional outbreaks of upper respiratory infections caused by parainfluenza virus were recorded in the past eight weeks affecting 11 persons.

     "We will closely monitor the activity of respiratory pathogens in the coming weeks. The CHP will also send letters to child care centres, kindergartens, primary and secondary schools and institutions alerting them to the increase in respiratory viral infections and providing advice on prevention and control," the spokesman said.

     To prevent respiratory tract infection, the public are reminded to take the following measures:

* Build up good body immunity by having a balanced diet, regular exercise and adequate rest, reducing stress and avoiding smoking;
* Maintain good personal and environmental hygiene;
* Wash hands after sneezing, coughing or cleaning the nose;
* Maintain good indoor ventilation; and
* Avoid visiting crowded places with poor ventilation.

     Members of the public, particularly young children, elderly people and those with chronic diseases, should wear face masks and consult their doctors promptly if they develop respiratory tract infection symptoms.

Ends/Wednesday, June 8, 2011
Issued at HKT 18:03


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