Three new measles infections and one case of serious complications caused by an enterovirus infection were confirmed last week, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) said yesterday.
The sources of the new measles infections are still under investigation, Epidemic Intelligence Center Deputy Director Guo Hung-wei (郭宏偉) said.
A total of 74 measles cases have been confirmed in Taiwan this year, including 28 people who were infected overseas, and the majority (76 percent) are aged between 20 and 39, Guo said, adding that 3,056 people are being monitored for symptoms.
Seven measles cases confirmed earlier this month were associated with three clusters of infections: one started by a person infected in Hong Kong and two clusters initiated by two people infected in Thailand, he said.
A man in his 20s was infected in Hong Kong and transmitted the disease to four people at a restaurant in New Taipei City and another four people when he sought treatment at a hospital, CDC Deputy Director-General Philip Lo (羅一鈞) said.
The measles virus can remain infectious in the air for more than an hour after an infected person leaves an area, Lo said, adding that the four people infected at the hospital did not come into direct contact with the man — some had only walked through the same hallway.
As the measles, mumps and rubella vaccination rate in Taiwan is relatively high, a person infected with measles usually only transmits the disease to three to four people at most, he said, adding that the cluster of nine cases that started in Hong Kong is the nation’s largest cluster this year so far.
A case of serious complications caused by enterovirus 71 (EV71) was confirmed last week in a five-year-old boy in Kaohsiung, CDC doctor Cheng Hao-yuan (鄭皓元) said.
The boy early this month presented with repeated high fevers, shortness of breath, headaches, rashes and trembling before being hospitalized, he said, adding that the boy was later admitted to a pediatric intensive care unit after he developed symptoms including involuntary muscle spasms, a rapid heartbeat and the inability to walk steadily.
The boy’s condition has stabilized and he has been discharged, Cheng said, adding that six cases of severe complications from enterovirus infection have been confirmed this year.
The EV71 epidemic cycle is usually two to four years, but the last large outbreak in Taiwan was in 2012, which resulted in more than 30 cases of severe complications caused by EV71 infection, so the CDC is paying extra attention to enterovirus infections this year to prevent another large outbreak, Lo said.
The CDC urged parents to watch for signs of severe complications caused by enterovirus infection and to seek immediate medical treatment if symptoms are observed.
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