The nation has entered the peak season for enterovirus infections, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) said yesterday.
The number of infections reported last week — 11,968 cases — exceeded the epidemic threshold, an increase of 10.7 percent compared with the week before, the agency said.
As of Saturday last week, the CDC had confirmed 12 cases of enterovirus infections with serious complications, including six among newborns, two of whom had echovirus type 11, including one who died aged just six days.
It was the second death of a newborn this year, it said.
The agency has seen an increasing number echovirus type 11 infections, CDC Deputy Director-General Philip Lo (羅一鈞) said.
“The mortality rate of newborn infants who suffer enterovirus infections with serious complications can be as high as 50 percent, and especially with the echovirus type 11 spreading this year,” he said.
The last time a serious outbreak of enterovirus among newborn infants occurred was in 2005, and was caused by the Coxsackie B virus, he said.
The agency has set up a task force and it would increase inspections of infection control measures at hospitals and newborn-infant care facilities, he said.
Hsu Chyong-hsin (許瓊心), head of the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit at Mackay Memorial Hospital, said the onset of enterovirus infection in newborns usually occurs in one to 14 days after birth, and infants could be infected through vertical infection from the mother, during the process of delivery, or from contact with other people after birth.
Pregnant women close to their due dates who have cold-like mild symptoms, such as fever, muscle ache or sore throat, should immediately tell their doctor, she said.
They should also avoid being in the same room with their babies until the symptoms have subsided, and they should also refuse other people’s requests to see the new baby, she added.
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