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Heightened vigilance urged amid increasing hand, foot and mouth disease activity
     In view of increasing local activity of hand, foot and mouth disease (HFMD), the Centre for Health Protection (CHP) of the Department of Health today (October 11) urged the public to maintain strict personal and environmental hygiene.

     "HFMD occurs throughout the year. Apart from a summer peak from May to July, a smaller peak may also occur from October to December. Our latest surveillance data show that the activity of HFMD has continued to increase in the past few weeks. As young children are more susceptible, parents should stay alert to their health. Sporadic institutional outbreaks may occur where HFMD can easily spread among young children with close contact," a spokesman for the CHP said.

     The number of institutional HFMD outbreaks recorded increased from three (affecting 12 persons) to 13 (42 persons) from the week of September 3 to that of October 1. As of yesterday (October 10), 14 outbreaks involving 48 persons had been reported this week. In the last four weeks, most outbreaks occurred in kindergartens and child care centres as well as primary schools.

     As for enterovirus (EV) 71 infection, as of yesterday, 47 cases (including two with severe complications) had been recorded this year, compared with 38 (two with severe complications) last year.

     Regarding severe paediatric EV infection other than EV71 and poliovirus, six cases had been recorded so far this year, compared with 11 last year.

     "Parents should pay special attention to personal and environmental hygiene when their children attend play facilities such as ball pools or have close contact with other children," the spokesman added.

     The CHP will issue letters to doctors, hospitals and schools/institutions on the latest situation. Schools 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.

     The CHP has launched a new poster (see attachment) to enhance health education on the prevention of HFMD.

     Management of 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.

     To prevent HFMD, members of the public, and especially the management of institutions, should take heed of the following preventive measures:
  • Maintain good air circulation;
  • Wash hands before meals and after going to the toilet or handling diapers or other stool-soiled materials;
  • Keep hands clean and wash hands properly, especially when they are dirtied by respiratory secretions, such as after sneezing;
  • Cover the nose and mouth while sneezing or coughing and dispose of nasal and oral discharges properly;
  • Clean children's toys and other objects thoroughly and frequently with diluted household bleach (by adding one part of household bleach containing 5.25 per cent sodium hypochlorite to 99 parts of water), followed by rinsing or wiping with clean water;
  • Children who are ill should be kept out of school until their fever and rash have subsided and all the vesicles have dried and crusted;
  • Avoid going to overcrowded places; and
  • Parents should maintain close communication with schools to let them know the latest situation of the sick children.

     The public may visit the CHP's page on HFMD and EV71 infection for more information.
Ends/Wednesday, October 11, 2017
Issued at HKT 19:15
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