Doctors are reporting a sharp increase in the number of people coming down with cases of gastroenteritis and the common cold during the Lunar New Year holiday.
Meanwhile, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) in Taipei has warned people traveling to China, Southeast Asia and South Asian nations to take precautions against the H5N1 bird flu virus.
Between last Saturday and Wednesday, Pingtung Christian Hospital in Pingtung City treated 2,300 individuals, 40 percent of them with an upset stomach and related digestive tract illnesses, while 35 percent had symptoms of the common cold.
Similarly, hospitals in the Greater Taipei area have reported high incidents of people coming in to see doctors due to gastroenteritis and cold symptoms in the past days.
“We are seeing more cases of viral gastroenteritis this year compared with last year. People should watch out if they are suffering from nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal pain and they have a fever,” said Chen Chih-wen (陳志文), head of the emergency department at Pingtung Christian Hospital.
CDC officials said the proliferation of viral gastroenteritis is due to people visiting relatives and going to crowded places during the Lunar New Year holiday, leading to increased transmission of the disease.
Officials said other cases of people with an upset stomach and digestive ailments were because of overindulgence on food during family gatherings and they urged people not to overeat during holiday feasts.
In its latest travel warning issued yesterday, the CDC said that China has reported two new cases of H5N1 flu in Guizhou Province, including the death of a 21-year-old woman.
The CDC said recent cases of the H5N1 flu have occurred in Hong Kong, Cambodia, Bangladesh, Nepal, Indonesia and other regions in Asia.
To date, Cambodia has reported six H5N1 flu cases, resulting in five deaths, while China has reported 28 deaths from 45 infections since last year.
The CDC warned people traveling abroad to refrain from any contact with poultry and birds, and advised against eating chicken, goose and duck meat or eggs, unless they are certain it has been properly cooked.