The Taitung County Government decided yesterday to temporarily shut down the county nursery school to clean and disinfect the facility after more than 10 children became infected with enterovirus.
Senior officials from the county government’s Social Affairs Bureau, Education Bureau and Public Health Bureau made the decision at an emergency meeting held to deal with the outbreak.
The first enterovirus infection, affecting a four-year-old child at the nursery, was confirmed on April 26, followed by more confirmed cases among four-year-olds and three-year-olds from April 29.
Fearing that the group infection might escalate, the nursery staff asked for help from the Public Health Bureau and the Social Affairs Bureau.
County government officials will oversee the disinfection operation to clean all facilities and toys inside and outside the classrooms in an attempt to eliminate the virus.
Nursery staff said that if the epidemic at the nursery could be brought under control, they would reopen the affected classes on May 12 or May 13.
Meanwhile, the health bureau in Taoyuan County reported yesterday that the number of infections in the county has jumped from 45 to 79 in the past three weeks.
China experienced an outbreak of enterovirus at the end of last month in many provinces.
Approximately 4,500 people were infected with enterovirus, with 22 deaths recorded and 12 people in a critical condition, Chinese media said.
The human enterovirus enters the body through the gastrointestinal tract and often moves on to attack the nervous system, leading to symptoms of fever, muscle aches and aseptic or viral meningitis.
Deputy director-general of the Department of Health (DOH) Centers for Disease Control Chou Jih-haw (周志浩) said on Tuesday that the epidemic infections of enterovirus in Taiwan and China were caused by genetically distinct subgenogroups and are not connected.
Chou said enterovirus infections in Taiwan were caused by viruses that constitute type 71, genogroup B5, while in China the genogroup is C4.
There is no evidence to indicate there is any relation between the outbreaks in Taiwan and China, Chou said, adding that it would take a long time for one subgenogroup to evolve into another.
Chou said Taiwan recorded four serious enterovirus cases last week in Taichung, Tainan and Kaohsiung counties.
As of Tuesday, a total of 64 serious cases, including two deaths, had been reported this year nationwide, Chou said.
Chou said that most of this year’s serious cases were in southern Taiwan, including 16 in Kaohsiung County, 12 in Pingtung County and seven in Kaohsiung City.
So far, no serious cases of enterovirus have been reported further north than Taoyuan County, Chou said, adding that the reasons for the distribution were not yet clear.
Chou said that among the nation’s 64 serious cases, 62 were type 71 infections — the deadliest type of all.