Parents urged to protect newborns from enterovirus

Parents urged to protect newborns from enterovirus

The number of enterovirus patients has continued to climb as the nation enters the epidemic season for the infection, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) said Tuesday.

According to the CDC, 19,312 patients sought outpatient or emergency treatment at hospitals for enterovirus infection between May 15 and May 21, up 13 percent from the previous week, said Chuang Jen-hsiang, deputy CDC director-general.

Among the patients was a newborn boy infected with Coxsackie A virus, and a 13 day-old girl infected with enterovirus 71 (EV71). CDC officials suspected them of having been infected by their mothers or by visitors.

Both have recovered following treatment.

The Coxsackie A virus remains the dominant virus strain circulating around the country, while a total of 34 cases of EV71 infections have been confirmed so far this year, including three new cases last week.

EV71 is a common cause of hand, foot and mouth disease among infants and children, and is associated with fatal neurological illness.

Luo Yi-jun, a doctor with the CDC, said that newborns have little defense against the virus and could develop symptoms of high fever as well as multiple organ failure if they are infected.

He warned pregnant women to avoid contact with enterovirus patients before and after giving birth.

The CDC said that the number of people seeking treatment for enterovirus at hospitals has exceeded 10,000 for the fourth consecutive week.

Chuang estimated that the outbreak will slow down gradually, but said the public should still be wary until the end of June.

The CDC said that the number of enterovirus patients in Hong Kong, South Korea, Macau, Singapore and mainland China has shown a trend of increase, or has remained the same compared with the numbers of the same period of last year.

The number of people infected with EV71 in China accounted for 57 percent of the total in the past two weeks, slightly lower than the number in the previous two-week period.

In Vietnam, around 60 percent of the enterovirus patients were centered in central and southern parts of the country, while the number in Japan was the lowest for the past decade.

Updated : 2021-03-02 06:12 GMT+08:00