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Reports of influenza on the rise

Reports of influenza on the rise
The Centre for Health Protection (CHP) of the Department of Health today (June 29) called on members of the public to take precautionary measures against respiratory tract infections as influenza outbreaks in institutions was on the rise in the past two weeks.

A CHP spokesman said influenza outbreaks in 20 institutions were confirmed between June 18 and 28.

At the same time, CHP's monitoring and sentinel surveillance systems indicated that Hong Kong is entering the summer influenza season.

During the past two weeks, consultation rates for influenza-like illness (ILI) in private doctors has increased from 56.6 (week ending June 16) to 70.7 (week ending June 23) per 1000 consultations. The ILI consultation rate at the GOPCs has also climbed from 5.2 (week ending June 16) to 7.1 (week ending June 23) per 1000 consultations.

Influenza virus isolated by CHP's Public laboratory Services Branch was also on the rise during the period. A total of 176 influenza viral detections were made in the week ending June 23, as compared with the 105 influenza detections in the week ending June 16.

"The predominant strain was influenza A H3N2 (Wisconsin), followed by influenza B (Shanghai).

"The strain matches the vaccine strains recommended in the 2006/07 Government Influenza Vaccination Program (GIVP) for influenza A but not influenza B. However, some degree of immunity against this influenza strain is expected in our population since influenza B/Shanghai strain had been circulating in significant portion in the community between 2002 and 2005," the spokesman said.

Influenza occurs in Hong Kong throughout the year. It usually peaks in February and March but may have a secondary peak during summer time.

The spokesman said the CHP would issue a letter to all doctors, schools, kindergartens, child care centres, and elderly homes regarding the recent situation.

"They will be reminded to inform the CHP if there is any unusual upsurge of influenza activity in schools, nurseries and kindergartens.

The spokesman called on members of the public to take the following measures to prevent influenza and other respiratory illnesses:
  • 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 and environmental hygiene;
  • To wash hands after sneezing, coughing or cleaning the nose;
  • To maintain good ventilation;
  • To avoid visiting crowded places with poor ventilation.
Members of the public, particularly young 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.

End/Friday, June 29, 2007