The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) yesterday reported eight severe cases and four deaths from influenza, as well as a second case this year of hantavirus pulmonary syndrome (HPS) and a fifth case of monkeypox.
CDC Epidemic Intelligence Center Deputy Director Guo Hung-wei (郭宏偉) said that 44,596 outpatient or emergency visits for flu-like illnesses were reported last week, similar to the previous week, with the number of cases expected to continue fluctuating slightly.
Eight severe flu complications and four deaths were reported last week, he said, adding that six severe cases and all those who died were infected with the influenza A (H3N2) virus.
CDC physician Lin Yung-ching (林詠青) said one of the people who died was a man in his 30s, who had diabetes and did not get vaccinated. He had a high fever for three days late last month and was diagnosed with pneumonia when taken to hospital, but his condition worsened during hospitalization due to an antibiotic-resistant bacterial infection and he died of sepsis three weeks after the onset of symptoms.
People who are eligible for the government-funded flu vaccine, especially those with chronic diseases, are encouraged to get vaccinated as soon as possible to reduce the risk of severe complications or death, Lin said.
CDC Deputy Director-General Philip Lo (羅一鈞) said that while the number of flu-like cases did not drastically peak during the Lunar New Year holiday, although the number of cases was about double those in the holiday period in the past two years, which were particularly low due to masking rules, it was still less than half of those before the COVID-19 pandemic.
With the 228 Memorial Day holiday next week and the indoor masking mandate removed, unvaccinated elderly people or people at higher risk are still encouraged to wear a mask in crowded venues to better protect against the flu and COVID-19, Lo said.
This year’s second HPS case was confirmed in a man in his 50s living in northern Taiwan, who works at a feed warehouse where he is sometimes exposed to dead mice and rats, and their droppings, Lin said.
He began suffering from fever and headaches on Jan. 30 and he lost unconsciousness at home on Feb. 3, he said.
HPS is a zoonotic disease transmitted by rodents through inhaling air contaminated with the virus or direct exposure to infected rodents’ droppings or urine, so animal disease prevention personnel, farmers, janitors or other workers at high risk should wear gloves and a mask when dealing with the droppings and disinfect the environment with diluted bleach, Lin said.
The fifth case of monkeypox was confirmed in a man in his 30s, who traveled abroad last month, Gou said.
He suffered from blisters, rashes, a sore throat, joint pain and soreness after returning to Taiwan, and he tested positive for monkeypox on Wednesday last week and is now isolated and receiving treatment.
The incubation period of monkeypox can range from five to 21 days, and the man had visited several nations and had social contact during the trip, and he might have contracted the disease in Austria, Lo said, adding that genome sequencing results identified the virus to be of the B.1.3 subvariant, which is circulating in central and western Europe.
Since a monkeypox outbreak in the UK in May last year, more than 86,000 cases have been reported in at least 109 nations, Guo said, adding that five imported cases have been confirmed in Taiwan.
Separately, the Central Epidemic Command Center yesterday reported 16,911 new domestric COVID-19 cases, 342 imported cases and 44 deaths.
The daily caseload was 15.9 percent lower than that on Tuesday last week.
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