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Tue, Jun 06, 2000 - Page 2 News List

Health department sings new tune to beat enterovirus

CONTAGION By taking the simple but effective measure of washing hands properly, the spread of the deadly enterovirus can be halted

By Liu Shao-hua  /  STAFF REPORTER

To help stem a serious enterovirus outbreak (腸病毒), Department of Health Director-General Lee Ming-liang (李明亮) yesterday launched a "wash your hands" campaign.

The campaign features a catchy song which, it is hoped, will help children to remember how to wash their hands properly.

There have been five deaths and 26 serious cases of enterovirus infection already this year, with more cases expected as the outbreak peaks.

Lee showed around 100 kindergarten children the correct way to wash their hands and joined in singing with Department of Health (DOH) officials, puppeteers and other performers.

The song details the five stages in the correct washing of hands: wetting hands, thoroughly rubbing hands with soap, cleaning hands with tap water, cleaning the tap, and drying your hands after.

"Many people don't know the right way to wash their hands," said the director-general of the Center for Disease Control (CDC) Twu Shiing-jer (涂醒哲), "We have to rub our hands with soap for at least 20 seconds."

"Washing hands properly can not only prevent enterovirus infections, but also other gastrointestinal diseases and flu."

"Adults also need to wash their hands frequently, it's not something that only children have to do," Twu said.

Lee said washing hands was an easy thing to do but was vitally important in the prevention of disease and infection.

"We are running this campaign to make people aware of the importance of washing hands," Lee said.

Enterovirus infection is most easily avoided by washing hands, especially after using the bathroom, something children often fail to do and which explains their high infection rate.

DOH officials also reminded parents and care-givers to wash toys and teddy bears. "Children's toys are a common media for contagion, especially furry teddy bears."

According to the DOH, the present enterovirus outbreak is peaking at the moment. The CDC has declared 10 regions in Taiwan to be emergency areas.

The number of enterovirus infections confirmed as "serious" so far this year is 26, five of which have resulted in death. The victims were between the ages of one and three-and-a-half.

The most dangerous strain of enterovirus (EV71), has caused nine of the most serious cases this year, including one death. DOH officials said EV71 appeared to be making a comeback this year, after the summer 1998 outbreak, which caused 34 deaths.

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