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CHP closely monitoring global and local influenza activity

     The spokesman for the Centre for Health Protection (CHP) of the Department of Health said today (January 10) that the CHP has been closely monitoring global and local influenza activity.

     According to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the influenza season in the US has arrived earlier than in previous years. The predominant circulating virus in the US so far has been influenza A(H3N2) (A/Victoria/361/2011-like), followed by influenza B (B/Wisconsin/1/2010-like of the Yamagata lineage and the Victoria lineage) and influenza A (H1N1)2009 (A/California/7/2009-like). Most of these viruses characterised are well matched with the component of this season's trivalent influenza vaccine and they were susceptible to oseltamivir and zanamivir.

     According to the World Health Organization, many countries in North America, Europe, North Africa and the eastern Mediterranean have reported increasing influenza activity over the past weeks.

     In Hong Kong, the winter influenza season usually occurs in January to March. The latest surveillance data showed that the influenza activity was still at the baseline level. The weekly number of influenza detections at the Public Health Laboratory Centre was 48 in the week ending January 5, as compared to 40, 41 and 45 in the preceding three weeks. The weekly influenza-like illness (ILI) consultation rates (per 1,000 consultations) for sentinel general out-patient clinics and private doctors were 1.9 and 34.2 respectively in the week ending January 5, which were also at the baseline level. No institutional ILI outbreaks were recorded in the weeks ending December 29 and January 5. In the week ending January 5, the current circulating influenza viruses mainly included influenza A(H3N2) (56.2 per cent), influenza A(H1N1)2009 (41.7 per cent) and influenza B (2.1 per cent). The viruses characterised to date, which have been circulating in 2012, were similar to those currently circulating in the US and match well with the vaccine viruses in Hong Kong.

     Influenza can cause medical complications, especially among vulnerable people such as the elderly, young children and those with chronic medical conditions. As the influenza season is expected to come in the coming weeks, target groups are advised to receive influenza vaccinations as soon as possible to protect their health.

     The public are also reminded to take the following measures to prevent respiratory tract infection:

* Build up good body immunity by having a proper 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 influenza-like symptoms.

Ends/Thursday, January 10, 2013
Issued at HKT 19:48


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