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Increase in respiratory viral infections cautioned

     The Centre for Health Protection (CHP) of the Department of Health called on the public to maintain strict personal and environmental hygiene to prevent respiratory tract infection and seasonal influenza infection. The appeal followed the CHP's latest surveillance data showing an increase in the activity of respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) and seasonal influenza in recent weeks.

     The Public Health Laboratory Services Branch of the CHP has reported increases in the amount of influenza and RSV detections recently. A total of 102 influenza detections were recorded last week (ending July 13) compared with 75 to 84 in the preceding three weeks. The circulating influenza viruses detected in the week ending July 13 were influenza A (H1N1) 2009 virus (50 per cent), influenza A (H3N2) (47 per cent) and influenza B (3 per cent). The CHP also recorded five influenza-like illness outbreaks occurring in institutions and schools in the week ending July 13.

     The weekly number of RSV detections recorded in the week ending July 13 was 91, compared with 64 to 70 in the preceding three weeks. One outbreak related to RSV infection was reported in week ending July 13.

     In Hong Kong, the seasonal influenza activity usually exhibits two peaks, occurring between January and March, and July to August.

     "We will continue to closely monitor the local situation of influenza activity and RSV infections," a CHP spokesman said.

     Influenza can cause medical complications, especially among vulnerable people such as the elderly, young children and those with chronic medical conditions. The spokesman stressed that influenza vaccination can reduce complications, hospitalisation and death. As serious influenza infection can occur even in healthy individuals and influenza vaccines are safe and effective, all members of the public (except those with known contraindications) can consult their family doctors to receive seasonal influenza vaccination for personal protection.

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

* 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/Wednesday, July 17, 2013
Issued at HKT 19:05


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