The influenza epidemic situation is heating up. The number of emergency room and outpatient visits for the flu surpassed the 100,000 mark two weeks ago, with 13,300 new outpatient visits in that week alone, which set a new record. Among them, 72 had severe flu-related complications and four died. The peak of the flu season is expected to occur over the Lunar New Year.
The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) released its “Spring Festival risk travel map” on Jan. 14, and reminded travelers to be wary and take necessary precautions to avoid bringing pathogens home from their pleasant trips abroad.
Data from the CDC shows that two weeks ago one in four people with cold-like symptoms had influenza. The number of emergency visits is still 15,000, while outpatient visits have reached 90,000. Three males and one female died from flu-related complications. The ages of the deceased ranged from 40 to 89. They were infected with the H1N1 and H3N2 flu strains, and most of them suffered from chronic diseases such as diabetes or cardiovascular disease and had not had a flu vaccine.
Photo: Lin Ming-hung, Liberty Times
The government-funded influenza vaccine includes the virus strains that are most prevalent, says Centers for Disease Control (CDC) Deputy Director-General Chou Jih-haw. Children in the three-to-six age group are in close proximity at preschools and day cares, making it easy to transmit viruses, Chou says, adding that up to 72 percent of kids in this age group have not gotten vaccinated, which has kept the rate of prevalence exceedingly high.
Winter is the peak season for norovirus in Northeast Asian nations like Japan and North and South Korea. Over the past two months, a total of 25 Taiwanese tour groups that ate at a restaurant while visiting a well-known skiing resort in Korea were infected with norovirus, with as many as 370 people suffering from diarrhea. An investigation found that the virus was transmitted by two cooks working at the restaurant, which has been shut down.
Taiwan’s emergency and outpatient visits for diarrhea-like symptoms reached 170,000 two weeks ago. Causes included bacteria, norovirus and rotavirus. Philip Yi-chun Lo, a doctor with the CDC, says that norovirus can only be killed in temperatures at or above 66 degrees Celsius, so people should avoid raw or cold foods and be careful to keep workers’ hands clean.
The H7N9 avian influenza epidemic in China near the border of Jiangsu and Zhejiang provinces and Guangdong Province is out of control, and the number of healthy young people infected with the virus has recently been rapidly increasing. Chou says that the more active a virus is within a community the easier it is for it to mutate. Taiwanese businesspeople in China should be on high alert, Chou says, adding that people planning on traveling abroad during the Spring Festival should familiarize themselves with all of the common local viruses, visit travel clinics to get the necessary disease prevention info, evaluate their personal health and find out which vaccines are recommended.
(Liberty Times, Translated by Kyle Jeffcoat)
1. precaution n.
預防措施 (yu4 fang2 cuo4 shi1)
例: The building inspector said we haven’t taken the necessary precautions against fire.
2. proximity n.
接近；鄰近；親近 (jie1 jin4; lin2 jin4; qin1 jin4)
例: When we were looking for a house, living in proximity to a good shopping center was very important to us.
3. diarrhea n.
腹瀉 (fu4 xie4)
例: Nine students were hospitalized yesterday with severe diarrhea.
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