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

     The Centre for Health Protection (CHP) of the Department of Health today (May 14) called on the public to maintain vigilance against hand, foot and mouth disease (HFMD) and enterovirus 71 (EV71) infection, as the latest surveillance data shows that Hong Kong is entering the peak season for both.

     "In this week as of yesterday (from May 11 to 13), the CHP has recorded 13 institutional HFMD outbreaks, higher than the number recorded in the preceding three weeks, which ranged from one to four outbreaks per week.

     "Sentinel surveillance among private medical practitioners also detected a significant increase in HFMD activity recently. In addition, as of yesterday, the CHP has recorded 20 cases of EV71 infection in 2014, which is higher than the total number of cases recorded in 2013 (12 cases). One case of EV71 infection this year developed severe complications," the spokesman said.

     "The summer peak season for HFMD and EV71 is usually from May to July. The local activity is expected to increase in the next few weeks," the spokesman added.

     The CHP has sent letters to child care centres, kindergartens and primary and secondary schools alerting them to the current situation regarding HFMD and EV71 infections, providing advice on prevention and control, and reminding them to report suspected HFMD outbreaks in their institutions to CHP.
     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. Such scenarios 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 this Friday (May 16), '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 were sent today to all doctors on the latest situation with regard to 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. Whether in Hong Kong or during travel, they are advised to observe the following:
* Maintain good air circulation;
* Wash hands before meals and after going to the toilet or handling diapers or other stool-soiled materials;
* Keep hands clean and wash hands properly, especially when they are dirtied by respiratory secretions, such as after sneezing;
* Cover the nose and mouth while sneezing or coughing and dispose of nasal and oral discharges properly;
* Clean children's toys and other objects thoroughly and frequently with diluted household bleach (by adding one part of household bleach containing 5.25 per cent sodium hypochlorite to 49 parts of water), followed by rinsing or wiping with clean water;
* Children who are ill should be kept out of school until their fever and rash have subsided and all the vesicles have dried and crusted;
* Avoid going to overcrowded places; and
* Parents should maintain close communication with schools to let them know the latest situation of the sick children.

     The public may visit the CHP's website ( for more information on HFMD and EV71 infection.

Ends/Wednesday, May 14, 2014
Issued at HKT 17:08


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