Sat, Mar 30, 2002 - Page 2 News List

Parents warned to guard against bug that kills children

By Sandy Huang  /  STAFF REPORTER

Taipei health officials yesterday warned parents to be on their guard against enterovirus, a potentially fatal disease that has already killed three children this year.

"Enterovirus infections occur mainly in temperate weather," said Chang Chao-ching (張朝卿), section chief of the Taipei City Government's Bureau of Health. "So the time between now and July is the period when everyone should be especially on guard for this deadly disease."

Enterovirus is transmitted through ingestion, via direct contact with infected individuals and through coughing or sneezing.

Symptoms of enterovirus include persistent high fever, cold sweat, extreme tiredness and sleepiness, repeated vomiting, muscle jerks and shortness of breath.

There have been 1,531 cases of enterovirus reported by Taipei City's hospitals this year, Chang said, "of which, 84 cases have been hospitalized because of the severity of the symptoms."

"The current situation is under control, though it seems this disease has struck Taiwan earlier than usual this year," he said.

The most serious recent outbreak of enterovirus in Taiwan occurred in 1998, when 78 children died from the disease.

According to the Department of Health, so far three children have died from enterovirus this year, one each in Yunlin, Taichung and Taitung counties.

"As there is no vaccine for the virus, personal hygiene is the most effective way to avoid catching and transmitting enterovirus," Chang said.

He advised everyone to wash their hands thoroughly before eating and after going to the toilet, to cover their mouths and noses when coughing or sneezing and to avoid sharing eating utensils.

"Since kids under 13 are the most vulnerable to this disease, we strongly urge parents to make sure that their children are taking good care of their daily hygiene and that their surroundings are being kept sanitary to reduce the risk of infection," Chang said.

He added that the bureau was working on promoting its campaign against enterovirus around the city in an effort to educate parents and school teachers to be on their guard against the disease.

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