Fri, Mar 08, 2013 - Page 3 News List

Risks of enterovirus infections, stomach flu on the rise: CDC

By Alison Hsiao  /  Staff reporter

With schools restarting after a four-week winter recess, risks of highly transmissible enterovirus infections and viral gastroenteritis, or stomach flu, are rising, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) said yesterday.

The percentage of patients visiting outpatient clinics and emergency rooms because of diarrhea in recent weeks (3.88 percent and 8.16 percent respectively) are higher when compared with the corresponding period last year (3.45 percent and 5.15 percent), the CDC said.

Among those who visited emergency rooms, children aged up to six were the most frequent patients.

The CDC said that since September last year, numerous cases of diarrhea have been caused by noroviruses, which cause gastroenteritis, adding that outbreaks have mostly occurred at schools (preschools and elementary schools), hospitals and nursing homes.

In addition, as temperatures start to rise this month, enteroviruses are also becoming more active, it said.

Schoolchildren are therefore advised by the centers to wash their hands regularly and adhere to the disease prevention concept of “staying home when sick.”

While most norovirus infections are related to exposure to contaminated food, person-to-person transmission is also common, the CDC said.

Since an enterovirus-71 outbreak occurred last year and there are still sporadic cases being reported, the risk of being infected and suffering from complications is not yet negligible, the CDC said.

Enterovirus infections are highly contagious, the CDC warned. Parents with young children are advised to avoid crowded public spaces and schools should instruct students to follow proper hygiene and sanitation procedures.

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