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CHP appeals for vigilance against acute gastroenteritis

     The Centre for Health Protection (CHP) of the Department of Health today (October 14) drew the attention of the public and management of schools and institutions to the prevention of acute gastroenteritis (AGE) by maintaining personal, environmental and food hygiene as AGE activity has increased in the past few weeks.

     According to the latest surveillance data, the number of institutional AGE outbreaks increased from five (affecting 51 persons) in the week ending October 10 to eight (affecting 80 persons) this week as of yesterday (October 13), compared with zero to three outbreaks per week in previous months.

     "AGE, commonly caused by norovirus and rotavirus, is a frequent cause of outbreaks in schools and institutions. AGE outbreaks may occur throughout the year but are known to occur more frequently in winter. AGE is highly infectious and may result in outbreaks which are difficult to control," a spokesman for the CHP said.

     Symptoms of AGE include nausea, vomiting, diarrhoea, abdominal pain, fever and malaise. The infection can spread through consumption of contaminated food or direct contact with the vomitus or excreta of infected persons.

     "We have issued letters to doctors, schools and institutions to alert them to the rise in AGE activity, corresponding infection control measures and health advice. Schools and institutions should also report AGE outbreaks to the CHP for prompt epidemiological investigation and control," the spokesman said.

     To prevent the spread of AGE, the public should take heed of the following advice:

* Wash hands thoroughly before handling food or eating, and after using the toilet or handling vomitus or faecal matter;
* Wear gloves when disposing of vomitus and faeces and wash hands afterwards;
* Clean and disinfect contaminated areas or items promptly and thoroughly with diluted household bleach (by adding one part of bleach containing 5.25 per cent sodium hypochlorite to 49 parts of water);
* Maintain good indoor ventilation; and
* Make sure that food, particularly seafood and shellfish, is thoroughly cooked.

     Members of the public may visit the CHP's pages on norovirus infection ( and rotavirus infection ( for more information and preventive advice.

Ends/Wednesday, October 14, 2015
Issued at HKT 18:39


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