Precautions against mosquito-borne diseases necessary for Ching Ming Festival and rainy season

     The Centre for Health Protection (CHP) of the Department of Health today (March 31) again urged the public to adopt necessary precautions against mosquito-borne diseases in the Ching Ming Festival and in preparation for the rainy season.

     "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 24 to 30, the CHP recorded two confirmed cases of dengue fever. The patients had been to Sri Lanka and multiple areas (Thailand and Malaysia) during the incubation period. As of yesterday (March 30), 18 cases had been confirmed in 2017 and they were imported from Thailand (six), the Philippines (four), multiple areas (three), Sri Lanka (two), and one each in Malaysia, the Maldives and Myanmar.

     Dengue remains endemic in some neighbouring and overseas areas. In Asia, the latest figures of 2017 revealed that 6 957 cases have been recorded in Thailand, 712 in Singapore and 38 in Japan since January 2. In the Americas, 5 898 cases were filed in Mexico.

B. Mosquito control

     In the rainy season, the public should stay alert in the coming months and take heed of the following advice on mosquito control:
  • Thoroughly check all gully traps, roof gutters, surface channels and drains to prevent blockage;
  • Scrub and clean drains and surface channels with an alkaline detergent compound at least once a week to remove any deposited mosquito eggs;
  • Properly dispose of refuse, such as soft drink cans, empty bottles and boxes, in covered litter containers;
  • Completely change water of flowers and plants at least once a week. The use of saucers should be avoided if possible;
  • Level irregular ground surfaces before the rainy season;
  • Avoid staying in shrubby areas; and
  • Take personal protective measures such as wearing light-coloured long-sleeved clothes and long trousers and apply insect repellent containing DEET to clothing or uncovered areas of the body when doing outdoor activities.

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 Virus Infection) 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 public may refer to the CHP's tips for using insect repellents for details.

Ends/Friday, March 31, 2017
Issued at HKT 12:35