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Local influenza activity closely monitored by DH

     The Centre for Health Protection (CHP) of the Department of Health today (July 22) appealed to members of the public to stay vigilant against seasonal influenza as the latest surveillance data showed that there has been an increase in local influenza activity.

     The Public Health Laboratory Services Branch of the CHP has reported a further increase in the number of influenza detections recently. The number of influenza virus detections reported increased from 84 in the week ending July 6 to 118 in the week ending July 20. The circulating influenza viruses detected in the week ending July 20 were influenza A (H3N2) (69.5 per cent), influenza A (H1N1) 2009 virus (26.3 per cent) and influenza B (4.2 per cent). The number of influenza-like illness (ILI) outbreaks increased from one in the week ending July 6 to six in the week ending July 20, affecting a total of 28 persons.

     "In Hong Kong, the seasonal influenza activity usually exhibits two peaks, occurring between January and March and in July and August. We will continue to closely monitor the local situation of influenza activity," a CHP spokesman said.

     Since 2011, the CHP has collaborated with the Hospital Authority and private hospitals to enhance surveillance concerning patients with influenza infection who required intensive care admission or died during the influenza peak season. This enhanced surveillance will be reactivated on July 26. During the period of enhanced surveillance for cases with influenza-associated intensive care unit (ICU) admission or death from January 18 to May 24, 2013, a total of 70 ICU admissions or death cases (including 29 deaths) with laboratory confirmation were recorded.

     At the same time, the CHP will continue to closely monitor cases with severe paediatric influenza-associated complications or deaths. Since January 1, 2013, there have been 10 reports of severe paediatric influenza-associated complications. No death cases were recorded among these cases.

     The CHP has sent letters to doctors, private hospitals and institutions alerting them to the latest local influenza activity.

     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 influenza, members of 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/Monday, July 22, 2013
Issued at HKT 18:47


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