The nation has entered the peak season for enterovirus infection, with hospitals and clinics reporting a total of 11,007 visits for treatment last week, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) said yesterday.
The figure surpassed the peak period threshold of 10,500 visits in one week and is 9.3 percent higher than the previous week, the CDC said.
The number of cases in Taoyuan, Chiayi City, and Yilan, Miaoli, Yunlin, Pingtung, Hualien and Taitung counties have passed their peak period thresholds, CDC Epidemic Intelligence Center Deputy Director Guo Hung-wei (郭宏偉) said.
The main circulating virus in the past four weeks was enterovirus 71 (EV71), he said, adding that cases of infection with enteroviral subtypes that have higher risks of serious complications are also rising.
Twelve cases of serious complications have been confirmed so far this year: six cases of EV71 infection, two cases of enterovirus D68 (EV-D68) infection, and one case each for coxsackievirus A9, coxsackievirus A10, coxsackievirus B5 and echovirus 11 infections, Guo said.
Children under the age of five are at a higher risk of developing a severe EV71 infection, with the virus invading the central nervous system and causing damage to the brain, CDC physician Huang Wan-ting (黃婉婷) said.
CDC Deputy Director-General Chuang Jen-hsiang (莊人祥) advised adults and children to wash their hands thoroughly with soap to safeguard against the highly infectious disease.
Children who are diagnosed with enterovirus infection should be temporarily separated from other children to avoid further transmission, Chuang added.
Parents should be alert to signs of serious complications, including sleepiness, loss of consciousness, weakness or numbness in the limbs, continuous vomiting, shortness of breath and rapid heartbeat, and seek immediate medical attention at larger hospitals, Huang said.
The CDC also confirmed two domestic cases and two imported cases of measles that were reported last week.
All four people are living in northern Taiwan, it said, adding that one of the two who contracted the disease abroad had visited Belgium and China, while the other one had visited Vietnam, China and Hong Kong.
Two new cases of Japanese encephalitis were also confirmed in Chiayi City and Kaohsiung, it said.
It is also the peak season of the disease, it said, advising people to guard against mosquito bites, especially when visiting pig farms, rice fields and other high-risk environments.
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