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Local hand, foot and mouth disease and acute gastroenteritis activity increasing
     The Centre for Health Protection (CHP) of the Department of Health today (October 5) reported that the local activity of hand, foot and mouth disease (HFMD) and acute gastroenteritis (AGE) are increasing, and again urged the public and management of institutions to maintain strict personal and environmental hygiene.
     "The latest surveillance data show that activity of both diseases is increasing and may further increase in the following weeks. Members of the public should heighten vigilance," a spokesman for the CHP said.
A. Hand, foot and mouth disease
     The number of institutional HFMD outbreaks increased from three (affecting 18 persons) in the week ending September 3 to 24 (77 persons) last week. As of yesterday (October 4), 14 (42 persons) had been reported this week. In the past four weeks, kindergartens and child care centres reported most outbreaks (69 per cent), followed by primary schools (20 per cent).
     "The usual summer peak of HFMD is from May to July, with a possible smaller peak from October to December. Last year, the summer peak lasted longer than usual. Schools, institutions and play facilities should observe our guidelines and health advice against outbreaks to better protect young children who are more prone to infections," the spokesman added.
     As for enterovirus (EV) 71 infection, as of yesterday, 22 cases (including one with severe complication) had been recorded this year. Last year, 56 cases including six with severe complications were filed. Regarding severe paediatric EV infection other than EV71 and poliovirus, nine cases had been detected so far this year with eight last year.
B. Acute gastroenteritis
     The number of institutional AGE outbreaks rose from one (six persons) in the week ending September 3 to eight (88 persons) last week. As of yesterday, seven (91 persons) had been reported this week. In the last four weeks, most outbreaks occurred in kindergartens and child care centres (70 per cent).
     The laboratory surveillance revealed a similar trend in gastroenteritis virus activity. The percentage that tested positive for norovirus increased from 6.5 per cent in August to 16.0 per cent last month as of September 23 among faecal specimens received by the CHP's Public Health Laboratory Services Branch.

     The CHP will issue letters to doctors, hospitals, institutions and schools today 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.
     "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 an earlier briefing on transportation arrangements for CBS held by the Education Bureau. Good ventilation and environmental hygiene inside compartments are essential in preventing infectious diseases," the spokesman said.
     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.
     The public may visit the CHP's page on HFMD and EV71 infection, acute diarrhoeal diseases and norovirus infection for more information.
Ends/Wednesday, October 5, 2016
Issued at HKT 17:54
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