Hand, foot and mouth disease outbreak at nursery school under CHP investigation

     The Centre for Health Protection (CHP) of the Department of Health is today (June 4) investigating an outbreak of hand, foot and mouth disease (HFMD) at a nursery school in Sha Tin, and hence appealed to the public to maintain strict personal and environmental hygiene.

     The affected pupils, comprising eight boys and 13 girls aged 3 to 6, have developed fever and oral ulcers as well as rash and vesicles on their hands or feet since May 23. All of them subsequently sought medical consultation and did not require hospitalisation. They are currently in stable condition.

     The stool specimen of an affected pupil tested positive for Coxsackie virus group A type 16 upon preliminary laboratory testing by the CHP's Public Health Laboratory Services Branch.

     Officers of the CHP have conducted site visits and provided health advice to the school. The school has been put under medical surveillance. The CHP's investigations are ongoing.

     "HFMD is common in children and is usually caused by enteroviruses such as Coxsackie viruses and Enterovirus 71 (EV71). It is clinically characterised by maculopapular rash or vesicular lesions occurring on the palms, soles and other parts of the body such as the buttocks and thighs. Vesicular lesions and ulcers may also be found in the oral cavity. Sometimes there are patients mainly presenting with painful ulcers at the back of the mouth, namely herpangina, without rash on the hands or feet," a spokesman for the CHP explained.

     To prevent HFMD, members of the public, and especially the management of institutions, should take heed of the following preventive measures:

* 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 page on HFMD and EV71 infection (www.chp.gov.hk/en/view_content/16354.html) for more information.

Ends/Wednesday, June 4, 2014
Issued at HKT 18:06