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Stay on guard against Japanese encephalitis
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     The Food and Environmental Hygiene Department (FEHD) said today (August 4) that a sample of adult Culex quinquefasciatus collected in Tung Fung Au, Ta Kwu Ling, North District on June 23 under its Japanese encephalitis (JE) vector surveillance programme was tested positive for the JE virus. Members of the public are reminded to stay alert to the risk of JE and to take proper anti-mosquito measures.

     "Positive results from time to time are not unexpected as JE is endemic among local pigs. Mosquitoes may acquire the virus from wading birds and pigs, which are known hosts of the virus. Although JE virus was detected in a sample of Culex quinquefasciatus, it does not mean that such mosquito could spread the disease in the territory," a spokesman for the FEHD said.

     According to the information provided by the Centre for Health Protection (CHP) of the Department of Health (DH), there were no human cases of JE in Tung Fung Au of Ta Kwu Ling in the past year. According to the information of the Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department, there were three pig farms within the two kilometres radius from the index location.

     Health education will be conducted by CHP in the vicinity and a joint health talk with the FEHD will be conducted at 11am tomorrow (August 5) at the Village Office of Chuk Yuen Village. Officers of the CHP will conduct site visit and questionnaire survey among neighbours in the vicinity of the site for active case finding.

     Symptoms of JE usually start at around four to 14 days after being infected. Mild infections may occur without apparent symptoms other than fever with headache. More severe infection is marked by quick onset of headache, high fever, neck stiffness, impaired mental state, coma, tremors, convulsions (especially in children) and paralysis.

     A CHP's Hotline 2125 1133 will start tomorrow at 9am till 6pm. People who have been to the vicinity of Tung Fung Au of Ta Kwu Ling with JE symptoms should call the hotline.

     The CHP will issue a letter to all doctors and private hospitals to alert them about the latest information of JE as well as to remind them to report any suspected cases to the DH for follow up.

     The FEHD will continue to conduct surveillance and implement comprehensive mosquito prevention and control work, including improving environmental hygiene, eliminating mosquito breeding places, applying larvicides and fogging, within the two kilometres radius from the location where the infected mosquito was collected. FEHD officers will also inspect pig farms in the vicinity and provide relevant information and eduction on prevention and control of mosquitoes, and enhance mosquito prevention and control work in public area outside the pig farms. The FEHD has also advised the relevant government departments to step up anti-mosquito work in areas under their managment, as well as strengthen related publicity and education efforts so as to reduce the risk of local spread of the JE virus.

     The JE vector surveillance programme carried out in Yuen Long from April to October each year has been further extended to cover locations in Tuen Mun, Sai Kung, North District, Sham Shui Po, Southern District and Kwai Tsing districts throughout the year since October 2015. Adult mosquitoes trapped would be tested for JE virus. A total of some 600 samples of adult mosquitoes were collected from October 2015 to June 2016. Except for the sample announced today, all other samples were found negative for JE virus.

     To prevent contracting JE, one should take general measures to prevent mosquito bites and avoid going to rural areas from dusk till dawn when the mosquitoes spreading this virus are most active. People planning to travel to areas in which JE is endemic should take special note. The public should:

* Wear loose, light-coloured, long-sleeved tops and trousers, and use DEET-containing insect repellent on exposed parts of the body and clothing;
* Take additional preventive measures when engaging in outdoor activities:
1. Avoid using fragrant cosmetics or skin care products;
2. Re-apply insect repellents according to instructions;
* Special notes when travelling abroad:
1. If going to affected areas, arrange a consultation with doctor at least six weeks before the trip, and have extra preventive measures to avoid mosquito bite;
2. During the trip, if travelling in endemic rural areas, carry a portable bed net and apply permethrin (an insecticide) on it. Permethrin should not be applied to skin. Seek medical attention promptly if feeling unwell; and
3. Travellers if feeling unwell, such as fever, should seek medical advice promptly, and provide travel details to doctor.

     The public may visit these pages for more information: the CHP's JE page, tips for using insect repellents, Facebook Page and YouTube Channel; the DH's Travel Health Service; and the FEHD's Guidebook on Control and Prevention of Mosquito Breeding.
 
Ends/Thursday, August 4, 2016
Issued at HKT 22:41
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