Four cases of serious complications from enterovirus infections were confirmed last week, including a two-year-old in northern Taiwan, and a two-year-old, three-year-old and an 11-year-old in central Taiwan, Centers for Disease Control (CDC) physician Lin Yung-ching (林詠青) said yesterday.
Three of the children were infected with enterovirus 71 (EV71) and one with coxsackievirus A4, he said, adding that they had developed either encephalitis (inflammation of the brain) or encephalomyelitis (inflammation of the brain and spinal cord).
The symptoms — fever, vomiting, oral ulcers, leg weakness, involuntary twitching of the muscles and loss of consciousness — occurred between Sept. 12 and Sept. 25, Lin said.
All four were hospitalized and treated in time, Lin said.
CDC Deputy Director-General Philip Lo (羅一鈞) said children under five years old are at an increased risk of serious complications, especially as there has not been a large EV71 epidemic in Taiwan for many years, so most children or teenagers have never been infected.
There were 17,570 hospital visits for enterovirus infections last week, a reduction of 7.2 percent compared with the week before, with the main virus types in the past four weeks being coxsackie type A, CDC data showed.
The reduced number of cases last week could be because many clinics and hospitals were not open during the four-day Double Ten National Day holiday, Lo said, adding that enterovirus is still in its epidemic season, so parents and people who work with children should take preventive measures and be on the look out for symptoms.
Meanwhile, a case of Japanese encephalitis in a man in his 30s in Yunlin’s Huwei Township (虎尾) was confirmed last week, the CDC said.
The man, who had not visited another country, suffered a fever on Sept. 21, was hospitalized on Sept. 23 after losing consciousness and remained in an intensive care unit until Oct. 2, Lin said.
“The man’s vital signs are stable, but his speech has not yet fully recovered and he still has weak limbs,” he said.
The fatality rate of Japanese encephalitis can be up to 20 or 30 percent, and 30 to 50 percent of those who do recover suffer permanent neurological or psychiatric aftereffects.
Twenty-one cases have been confirmed this year, including two deaths: Five were in Kaohsiung, four in Taoyuan and three in Taichung, with the others being sporadic cases in other cities and counties, Lin said.
Getting vaccinated is the best way to prevent Japanese encephalitis, Lin said, urging people to take infants older than 15 months to get vaccinated at local health departments, contracted clinics and hospitals.
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