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

     The Centre for Health Protection (CHP) of the Department of Health today (May 18) called on the public to maintain vigilance against hand, foot and mouth disease (HFMD) and enterovirus 71 (EV71) infection, as the latest surveillance data showed that Hong Kong is entering the traditional peak season of the disease.

     "The activity of both HFMD and EV71 infection is on the rise. The usual peak season is from May to July, with a possible smaller winter peak from October to December. Schools, institutions and play facilities should observe our guidelines and health advice against outbreaks to better protect young children who are more prone to both diseases," a spokesman for the CHP said.

     The number of institutional HFMD outbreaks increased from five (affecting 16 persons) in the week ending April 30 to 30 (124 persons) last week. As of yesterday (May 17), 13 (42 persons) had been reported this week. In the past four weeks, kindergartens and child care centres (KG/CCCs) reported most outbreaks (63 per cent), followed by secondary schools (20 per cent) and primary schools (17 per cent).

     As for EV71 infection in 2016, as of yesterday, three cases were recorded with no severe or death cases. In 2015, 56 cases including six with severe complications were filed. Regarding severe paediatric enterovirus infection other than EV71 and poliovirus, three cases had been recorded so far this year while eight were recorded in 2015, with no deaths in both years.

     In addition, surveillance of HFMD based at Accident and Emergency Departments and sentinel KG/CCCs also recorded a corresponding increase in HFMD activity.

     "Apart from ongoing health education for schools and students, our Port Health Office has reinforced health advice to schools receiving cross-boundary students (CBS) and operators of cross-boundary school coaches in a briefing on transportation arrangements for CBS held by the Education Bureau on May 5. Good ventilation and environmental hygiene inside compartments are essential in preventing infectious diseases," the spokesman said.

     The CHP has issued letters to doctors, hospitals, KG/CCCs and schools on the latest situation. Schools and institutions are reminded to follow the Guidelines on Prevention of Communicable Diseases ( on preventive and control measures as well as management of outbreaks, which should be reported to the CHP for prompt follow-up.

     In the community setting, venues with play facilities should pay special attention to the CHP's Public Health Advice for Play Facilities ( on appropriate infection control in activities involving young children under 6 during the peak season.

     Some neighbouring areas have also entered the peak season since late April. The Health and Family Planning Commission of Guangdong Province reported 88 366 HFMD cases to date, including three deaths, rising 72 per cent from last year. In Taiwan, according to the Centers for Disease Control, the EV activity is increasing and 17 000 EV consultations were recorded last week, rising 27.8 per cent from the preceding week.

     "HFMD is common in children and is usually caused by EVs such as Coxsackievirus and 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 patients present mainly with painful ulcers at the back of the mouth, namely herpangina, without rash on the hands or feet," the spokesman said.

     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 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 ( for more information.

     The CHP's weekly report, EV SCAN (, will be issued starting from this Friday (May 20) to report the latest surveillance data.

Ends/Wednesday, May 18, 2016
Issued at HKT 19:22


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