CDC warns of norovirus, H7N9 outbreak during Lunar New Year

The increased norovirus cases in Taiwan recently were mainly associated with a new strain of norovirus, GII.2, the CDC said.

(CNA photo)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) - Centers for Disease Control (CDC) on Thursday has warned the holiday travelers to watch for norovirus outbreaks in Japan and South Korea, and the surge of H7N9 avian influenza cases in China, as travel tends to increase during the Lunar New Year holiday.

In a press conference, CDC Deputy Director-General Philip Lo said that H7N9 avian flu continues to spread through parts of China, with as many as 245 confirmed cases being recorded since October.

Most of the infections were reported in Jiangsu, Zhejiang, Anhui, and Guangdong, and many of them have been reported exposure to live poultry, he added.

The Deputy Director-General has advised people traveling to China to avoid direct contact with poultry and poultry farms, and consume only thoroughly cooked eggs in an effort to avoid infection. Travelers should also exercise good personal and food hygiene, he added.

The CDC in early January also warned of a major epidemic of norovirus in Taiwan later this month, as there has been a spike in viral gastroenteritis in recent weeks.

The increased norovirus cases in Taiwan recently were mainly associated with a new strain of norovirus, GII.2, with 66 percent of which occurred on campuses, the CDC said.

The recent acute gastroenteritis outbreaks in Japan and South Korea have also been related to norovirus.

The Deputy Director-General said as noroviruses have a high mutation frequency of 2 to 3 years and are very infectious, the new-found variant of GII.2 is very likely to cause the next gastroenteritis outbreak in Taiwan in the coming months.

Noroviruses are the most common cause of viral gastroenteritis. The infections can be transmitted via contaminated food and water or direct personal contact, with symptoms including diarrhea, vomiting, nausea and stomach pain.

The CDC has urged the public to adopt good hand hygiene in a bid to limit the spread of norovirus.