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CHP closely monitors meningococcal cases linked to international Scout jamboree

     The Centre for Health Protection (CHP) of the Department of Health is today (August 19) closely monitoring meningococcal cases in Scotland and Sweden and has offered appropriate health advice to travellers and members of the public.

     According to the health authority of Scotland, there are four confirmed cases of meningococcal disease associated with an international Scout jamboree, a 12-day event in Kirara-hama, Yamaguchi Prefecture, Japan. Among them, three were Scouts from Scotland who had returned from the jamboree while the fourth is a parent of a Scout (not among the above three cases) who attended the event.

     The four cases have been admitted to hospital for further management. Two of them have been confirmed as serogroup W.

     Meanwhile, according to the health authority of Sweden, there is one confirmed case of meningococcal infection and three more suspected cases are under investigation. All four were participants who had returned after attending the same event.

     "We have contacted the Scout Association of Hong Kong. According to their information, about 600 Hong Kong contingent members attended the event. We will closely monitor the situation. Letters will also be sent to doctors to remind them to notify the CHP about any suspected cases," a spokesman for the CHP said.

     Locally, as of yesterday (August 18), five confirmed cases of invasive meningococcal infection had been reported to the CHP this year. None were related to the event. Five were recorded in 2014 and three in 2013.

     "Meningococcal infection is caused by a bacterium known as meningococcus. It is mainly transmitted by direct contact through respiratory secretions, including droplets from the nose and throat, from infected persons. The incubation period varies from two to 10 days, and is commonly three to four days," the spokesman explained.

     The clinical picture may vary. Severe illness may result when the bacteria invade the bloodstream (meningococcaemia) or the membranes that envelop the brain and spinal cord (meningococcal meningitis).

     Meningococcaemia is characterised by sudden onset of fever, intense headache, purpura, shock and even death in severe cases. Meningococcal meningitis is characterised by high fever, severe headache and stiff neck followed by drowsiness, vomiting, fear of bright light, or a rash. It can cause brain damage or even death. The brain damage may lead to intellectual impairment, mental retardation, hearing loss and electrolyte imbalance. Invasive meningococcal infections can be complicated by arthritis, inflammation of the heart muscle, inflammation of the posterior chamber of the eye or chest infection.

     Meningococcal infection is a serious illness. Patients should be treated promptly with antibiotics.

     To prevent meningococcal infection, members of the public are advised to take heed of the following measures:

* Wash hands with liquid soap and water properly, especially when they are dirtied by respiratory secretions, such as after sneezing, and clean hands with alcohol-based handrub when they are not visibly soiled;
* Cover the nose and mouth while sneezing or coughing, hold the spit with a tissue, dispose of nasal and mouth discharge in a lidded rubbish bin, and wash hands immediately;
* Avoid crowded places;
* Avoid close contact with patients who have fever or severe headache;
* Travellers to high-risk areas may consult doctors for meningococcal vaccination; and
* Travellers returning from high-risk areas should seek medical advice if they become ill and should discuss their recent travel history with their doctor.

     The public may visit the CHP's meningococcal infection page ( for more information.

Ends/Wednesday, August 19, 2015
Issued at HKT 19:41


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