Thu, Jan 22, 2009 - Page 2 News List

CDC urges precautions during peak flu season

By Shelley Huang  /  STAFF REPORTER

The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) yesterday advised those who plan to visit crowded areas during the holiday season to take precautions as the number of people infected with influenza continues to rise and is expected to peak within the next couple of weeks.

The CDC reported on Tuesday that a fifth-grade girl living in the north had fallen critically ill with influenza type A. This is the year’s second reported case of severe influenza, the CDC said.

The girl began suffering symptoms of coughing and fever last week, and was checked into to intensive care after she developed influenza-induced encephalitis, the CDC said. She then gradually lost consciousness just three days after contracting the disease.

The girl was brought home on Monday after her parents were told that her condition had not seen any improvements despite the hospital’s various emergency treatments.

“The numbers I have received from disease monitoring centers around the country have continued to rise. The country will enter peak flu season within the next one to two weeks,” said Chou Jih-haw (周志浩), deputy director-general of the CDC.

The most prevalent type of influenza is type A, comprising about 80 percent of all reported cases, he said.

There have been 11 cases of severe influenza since winter began, including two deaths, the CDC said.

Aside from influenza, other viruses such as respiratory syncytial virus, adenovirus and morbillivirus are all capable of inducing respiratory problems.

The CDC advised those likely to visit crowded areas such as traditional markets or see groups of relatives during the Lunar New Year holiday season to wear face masks and wash their hands frequently. Those who have weak immune systems should consider receiving flu vaccine shots.

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