Twelve new cases of severe enteroviral infections have been reported over the past eight days, bringing the total number of severe infections to 47 so far this year, according to the Center for Disease Control (CDC) yesterday.
All the victims are children below five years old, four of whom have died from complications caused by the infections, CDC officials said.
While the number of medical visits for enteroviral infections has been rising for 10 consecutive weeks in the country, the outbreak may peak in the next couple of weeks, officials said.
The enteroviral outbreak has so far resulted in 36 school closures, mainly in daycare centers and kindergartens, with 25 cases occurring in the north and 11 in central Taiwan, health authorities said.
Most of the severe infections have been reported in central Taiwan, with 31 cases, while there have been nine cases in the south, six in the north and one in the east, they said.
Watch for symptoms
The officials urged parents to watch closely if their children develop any symptoms of severe illness in the five days during which symptoms of enteroviral infection start to appear and send them to a hospital.
These symptoms include excessive sleepiness, decreased responsiveness, weakness and paralysis of the extremities, muscle pain, vomiting, fever, irritability, coma, shortness of breath, increased or irregular heartbeat.
Similar to flu
While the symptoms of enteroviral infections can be similar to that of flu, some patients may develop blisters on their hands, feet and mouth and even pneumonia, myocarditis and also encephalitis.
As enteroviruses are transmissible via direct contact with secretions from an infected person or contact with contaminated surfaces or objects, practicing good personal hygiene is crucial to preventing infections, according to the CDC.