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Vigilance urged on mosquito-borne diseases in Ching Ming Festival
     The Centre for Health Protection (CHP) of the Department of Health today (March 24) urged the public to adopt necessary precautions in the Ching Ming Festival against mosquito-borne diseases.

     "With possibly more outdoor exposure while visiting cemeteries and columbaria, grave sweepers should wear light-coloured and long-sleeved tops and trousers and use DEET-containing insect repellent on exposed parts of the body and clothing. Remove stagnant water in incense burners and used containers and clear rubbish before leaving to prevent mosquito breeding. Anti-mosquito measures are essential in personal protection," a spokesman for the CHP said.

A. Dengue fever

     Locally, from March 17 to 23, the CHP recorded two confirmed cases of dengue fever. The patients had been to Myanmar and multiple areas (Malaysia, Singapore and Thailand) respectively during the incubation period. As of yesterday (March 23), 16 cases had been confirmed in 2017 and they were imported from Thailand (six), the Philippines (four), multiple areas (two) and one each in Malaysia, the Maldives, Myanmar and Sri Lanka.

     Dengue remains endemic in some neighbouring and overseas areas. In Guangdong, 13 cases were recorded in 2017 as of March 15. In Asia, the latest figures of 2017 revealed that 6 539 cases have been recorded in Thailand, 678 in Singapore and 31 in Japan since January 2. In the Americas, 4 084 cases were filed in Mexico.

B. Zika Virus Infection

     The CHP noted that the World Health Organization has developed a new Zika virus country classification scheme which categorises countries/areas based on the presence of and potential for vector-borne transmission under which countries/areas in Categories 1 and 2 out of four are considered to have ongoing transmission (affected areas).
     "The public should continue to pay attention to these areas and observe our ongoing health advice and special notes during travel. Pregnant women and those planning pregnancy should not travel to affected areas," the spokesman said.

C. Proper use of insect repellents

     To reduce the risk of infections spread by mosquitoes, apart from general measures, travellers returning from affected areas should apply insect repellent for 14 days (dengue fever) or at least 21 days (Zika) upon arrival in Hong Kong. If feeling unwell, seek medical advice promptly and provide travel details to the doctor. DEET-containing insect repellents are effective and the public should take heed of the tips below:
  • Read carefully the label instructions first;
  • Apply right before entering an area with risk of mosquito bites;
  • Apply on exposed skin and clothing;
  • Use DEET of up to 30 per cent for pregnant women and up to 10 per cent for children;
  • Apply sunscreen first, then insect repellent; and
  • Re-apply only whenever needed and follow the instructions.

     The CHP has launched a new pamphlet (see attachment) of tips for using insect repellents to step up health education efforts on prevention of mosquito-borne diseases.
Ends/Friday, March 24, 2017
Issued at HKT 17:30
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