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Public urged to be vigilant against upper respiratory tract infection

     The Centre for Health Protection (CHP) of the Department of Health today (March 6) called on the public to maintain strict personal and environmental hygiene to prevent upper respiratory tract infection (URI).

     The appeal followed the CHP's investigation into two URI outbreaks in Sham Shui Po and Southern District respectively.

     The first case involved 24 pupils aged between 3 and 6 at a kindergarten in Sham Shui Po. The affected pupils, comprising 11 males and 13 females, developed URI symptoms including fever, cough, runny nose and sore throat since February 17. One student required hospitalisation. All are in stable condition.

     The hospitalised student's nasopharyngeal swab tested positive for human metapneumovirus.

     A CHP spokesman said human metapneumovirus (hMPV) is a single-stranded RNA virus and can cause acute respiratory tract infections in all ages. Children are primarily affected.

      "Human metapneumovirus causes clinical syndromes of varying severity in children such as fever, cough, difficulty in breathing or shortness of breath. Some children may also present with otitis media, diarrhoea, vomiting, rash and febrile convulsion. In adults, hMPV usually causes mild disease characterised by cough, hoarseness, runny nose and sputum production," the spokesman said.

     The second case involved 22 students aged between 13 and 14 at a secondary school in Southern District. The affected students, comprising 16 males and six females, developed URI symptoms including fever, cough, runny nose and sore throat since February 29. No hospitalisation was required. All are in stable condition.

     Staff of the CHP conducted site visits and provided health advice to both schools. They were put under medical surveillance.

     To prevent URI and influenza, members of the public are advised to adopt 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, and wash hands after sneezing, coughing and cleaning the nose. Wear a mask when developing symptoms of respiratory infections;
* Maintain good ventilation; and
* Avoid visiting crowded places with poor ventilation, especially during peak influenza season.

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

     For more information on the disease, members of the public may visit the CHP's website (

Ends/Tuesday, March 6, 2012
Issued at HKT 15:50


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