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CHP appeals for vigilance against acute gastroenteritis
     The Centre for Health Protection (CHP) of the Department of Health (DH) today (March 15) 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 in view of the recent increase in AGE activity locally.

     According to the latest surveillance data, the number of institutional AGE outbreaks rose from three (affecting 28 persons) in the week ending February 25 to 12 (affecting 132 persons) in the week ending March 11. As of yesterday (March 14), five outbreaks (affecting 46 persons) had also been reported this week. Most of the recent outbreaks occurred in kindergartens and child care centres.

     In addition, the DH's sentinel surveillance based at General Outpatient Clinics and child care centres/kindergartens also recorded corresponding increases in AGE activity.

     "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.

     "We have issued letters to doctors, hospitals, institutions and schools today on the latest situation. Schools and institutions are also 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. Health advice has also been given," the spokesman said.

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

     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, handling vomitus or faecal matter or changing diapers;
  • 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;
  • Use separate utensils to handle raw and cooked food; 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, March 15, 2017
Issued at HKT 18:40
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