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Public reminded to be vigilant against influenza

Public reminded to be vigilant against influenza
The Centre for Health Protection (CHP) of the Department of Health today (January 31) called on members of the public to take precautionary measures against seasonal influenza as some surveillance indicators suggested that influenza activity has been on the rise recently.

A CHP spokesman said that an increasing number of influenza virus samples has been detected at CHP's Public Health Laboratory Centre since early this month.

"The number of weekly influenza detections rose from 19 in the first week of this month to 71 last week.

"In the past four weeks, about 87 per cent of positive samples were influenza A (mostly H3N2) while the remaining were influenza B virus," he said.

The spokesman said although the consultation rates for influenza-like illness at sentinel doctors' networks remain at baseline level, the influenza peak season is approaching. High risk members of the public should get influenza vaccination early.

"As it takes about two weeks for antibodies to develop after vaccination, timely vaccination for the high risk groups can ensure that they acquire adequate protection against influenza-related complications in case of infection," the spokesman said.

"Those who are covered by the Government Influenza Vaccination Programme but have not received the vaccines are advised to get vaccinated as soon as possible," he said.

He said about 250 000 target clients have received influenza vaccination since the programme started on November 6 in 2006.

To prevent influenza and other respiratory tract infections, the public are advised to adopt the following measures:
* To build up good body immunity by having a proper diet, regular exercise and adequate rest, reducing stress and avoiding smoking;
* To maintain good personal hygiene, and wash hands after sneezing, coughing and wear a mask when developing symptoms of respiratory infections;
* To maintain good ventilation; and
* To avoid visiting crowded places with poor ventilation, especially during peak influenza season.

Members of the public, particularly children, elderly people and those with chronic diseases, should wear face masks and consult their doctors for medical advice promptly if they develop influenza-like symptoms.

Ends/Wednesday, January 31, 2007