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Precautions against mosquito-borne diseases necessary in Chung Yeung Festival
     ​The Centre for Health Protection (CHP) of the Department of Health today (October 20) reminded the public to carry out preventive measures to avoid mosquito bites and accumulation of stagnant water in the Chung Yeung Festival.

     "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 guarding against dengue fever (DF) and Japanese encephalitis (JE)," a spokesman for the CHP said.

     Regarding DF, from October 13 to 19, the CHP recorded three confirmed cases. The patients had been to Vietnam, Indonesia and the Philippines during the incubation period. As of October 19, a total of 84 cases had been confirmed in 2017, comprising one local case and 83 imported cases mainly from Thailand (20), the Philippines (13) and Sri Lanka (11).

     Dengue remains endemic in some areas in Asia. The latest figures of 2017 revealed that 42 035 cases had been recorded in Thailand, 2 260 in Singapore and 202 in Japan (since January 2). Moreover, 10 local cases have been recorded in Taiwan this year. In the Americas, 49 231 cases were recorded in Mexico in 2017.

     As for JE, five cases had been recorded in 2017 and all were locally acquired, four of which were mosquito-borne and one was blood-borne, compared with two (imported) and two (one local, one unclassified) in 2016 and 2015 respectively. The public should avoid going to rural areas from dusk till dawn when the vector, which breeds in large water bodies such as rice paddies, is most active.

     The public should 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 the 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.

     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 (DF) 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 when needed and follow the instructions.

     The public may refer to the CHP's tips for using insect repellents for details.
Ends/Friday, October 20, 2017
Issued at HKT 14:40
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