The number of confirmed enterovirus cases spiked nationwide last week to 18,452, and there were five cases of serious complications, both weekly highs for the year, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) said yesterday.
The 18,452 outpatient and emergency room visits were a 10.7 percent increase from the week before, Intelligence Center Deputy Director Guo Hung-wei (郭宏偉).
The number of cases rose dramatically in central and southern Taiwan, and the main virus in most cases in the past four weeks was coxsackie A, he said.
However, of the 34 cases of serious complication from enterovirus infections so far this year, the majority (25 cases) involved enterovirus 71, he said.
CDC Deputy Director-General Philip Lo (羅一鈞) said the weekly case numbers had been slowly declining, but the start of a new school year last week saw the numbers spike.
CDC physician Lin Yung-ching (林詠青) said the age of the children with serious complications ranged from five months to 10 years, and four of them had enterovirus 71.
The onset of symptoms occurred between Aug. 7 and Aug. 20, before school started, and they were hospitalized for three to 12 days, he said, adding that all five have since been discharged.
Chen Mu-jung (陳木榮), superintendent of Your Doctor Clinic, a pediatric clinic in New Taipei City, said some children might display very mild symptoms and so their parents might allow them to go to school, where they could spread the disease, but parents should exercise cautious and take them to see a doctor if they suspect their child might be infected.
Parents should be alert for signs of serious complications, including sleepiness, continuous vomiting, irregular twitching of muscles, shortness of breath and rapid heartbeat, and seek medical treatment immediately, Chen said.
Adults are not immune to enteroviruses, but they usually have either no symptoms or mild ones, so parents with young children should wash their hands thoroughly and change their clothes after arriving home, before they approach their children, he added.
Parents should also be cautious about flu-like symptoms in their children, and remind them to maintain good personal hygiene and cough etiquette, and stay home if they have the flu, the centers said.
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