248 cases of enterovirus 71 infection confirmed in Taiwan

CDC briefing (CNA photo)

CDC briefing (CNA photo)

Taipei, Aug. 20 (CNA) A total of 248 cases of enterovirus 71 (EV71) have been confirmed in Taiwan this year, after two children with serious infections were recently added to the list, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) said Tuesday.

The two recent serious cases of EV71 involved a two-year-old girl and a two-year-old boy who have since been discharged from hospitals in northern Taiwan, bringing the number of infections with serious complications to 28 for 2019 -- higher than the levels recorded during the same period from 2016-2018, the CDC said.

Of the 28 serious enterovirus cases, 20 were from EV71, while two each were from Enterovirus D68 and Coxsackievirus A10, and one each from Coxsackievirus A6, A9, B5 and Echovirus 11, according to CDC data.

According to CDC Epidemic Intelligence Center Deputy Director Guo Hung-wei (郭宏偉), the number of patients seeking medical attention totaled 15,365 between Aug. 11-17.

Although the number of emergency and outpatient cases seeking medical treatment for enterovirus has been relatively stable in the last three weeks, Guo warned, the peak season for the disease is not yet over, and he urged the public to take precautions against the spread of the illness, especially among children.

Kids younger than five years old are the high-risk group, and should be rushed to hospital should they develop symptoms such as fever, rash and ulcers, the CDC said.

Children should avoid going to crowded places during the summer peak season for the epidemic, wash their hands frequently and pay attention to their personal hygiene and living environments, it said.

An enterovirus infection usually begins with fever, poor appetite, tiredness and sore throat, and EV71 may cause more serious diseases, such as viral meningitis, encephalitis, poliomyelitis-like paralysis and myocarditis.

The incubation period commonly ranges from 3-5 days.

EV71 infection occurs commonly in Southeast Asian areas, especially in summer and early autumn. Outbreaks have been reported in Australia, China, Malaysia, Singapore and Taiwan.