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.

     "The CHP recorded an increasing number of institutional outbreaks of HFMD in the recent two weeks. There were nine and 10 institutional HFMD outbreaks in the week ending May 9 and the first four days (May 10-13) of this week respectively as compared with between zero and four outbreaks per week in previous months.

     "As for EV71 infection in 2015, the CHP recorded 17 cases as of May 13, among which one patient developed a severe complication. Fourteen of the cases were recorded in recent four weeks," 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.

     "HFMD activity in neighbouring areas has also increased. According to the number of cases of HFMD, Guangdong has entered into the peak season of the disease since early May. In Taiwan, the latest information shows that it is entering into the peak season of HFMD as  disease activity has been increasing in recent four weeks," the spokesman added.

     The CHP has sent letters to childcare 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.
     "Starting from this Friday (May 15), '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 has 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 (www.chp.gov.hk/en/view_content/16354.html) for more information on HFMD and EV71 infection.

Ends/Thursday, May 14, 2015
Issued at HKT 16:08