Hong Kong enters peak season of hand, foot and mouth disease and enterovirus 71 infection

     The Centre for Health Protection (CHP) of the Department of Health today (May 9) called on the public to maintain vigilance against hand, foot and mouth disease (HFMD) and enterovirus 71 (EV71) infection, as the latest surveillance data showed that Hong Kong is entering the peak season for both.

     "In the week ending May 4 this year, the CHP received 10 reports of HFMD outbreaks in institutions, higher than the numbers recorded in the preceding three weeks, which ranged from three to six outbreaks per week.

     "The sentinel surveillance system based at child care centres and kindergartens has also detected an increase in HFMD activity recently. 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.

     The spokesman added that the CHP had sent letters to child care centres, kindergartens and primary and secondary schools alerting them about the most current HFMD and EV71 infections situation and providing advice on prevention and control.
     Upon notification of HFMD outbreaks in these institutions, the CHP would initiate prompt epidemiological investigation and control measures, including 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.
     "Starting from tomorrow (May 10), 'EV SCAN', a weekly update on HFMD and EV71 infection, will be published on the CHP website to summarise 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 so as 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 observe the following:
* Wash hands before eating and after going to the toilet or changing diapers;
* Cover the nose and mouth while sneezing or coughing, and dispose of nasal and mouth discharge properly;
* 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 per cent 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 per cent sodium hypochlorite to 49 parts of water);
* 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 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 the preventive measures against EV71 and HFMD can be found in the website of the CHP (www.chp.gov.hk).

Ends/Thursday, May 9, 2013
Issued at HKT 16:28