A national enterovirus prevention center will be established as part of government's efforts to curb the spread of the disease, Health Minister Lin Fang-yue said yesterday.
The Department of Health will convene its first meeting today on the center's establishment amid jitters about enterovirus after four deaths from the disease were reported, Lin said during a fact-finding trip to the southern county of Kaohsiung.
DOH officials will review the existing budget policy on enterovirus control and prevention, as well as discuss any possible new ways of curing the disease to which young children are prone, Lin said after visiting a pediatric ICU ward at Kaohsiung Chang Gung Memorial Hospital.
"The country could use new ways of thinking to battle the disease, although conventional ways of treatment are effective, " Lin said.
"So far, the battle against the disease has been won, even though four children have died," he added.
The scourge of serious type EV71 enterovirus this year first occurred in Kaohsiung city and county and in Pingtung city and county, gradually spreading northward, with the number of confirmed cases rising swiftly in two weeks to 107 last month, while fatalities had doubled from two to four by the end of May.
Lin urged medical personnel and parents of infected young children to remain patient, as it takes time and patience to allow those affected to recover, pointing out that EV71 not only attacks the child's respiratory system but can also injure the child's cardiac and nervous systems.
In 1998, Taiwan recorded 405 serious EV71 cases, 78 of which were fatal.
The number of serious cases has since declined. In 2000, only a few cases were documented and there have been no serious enterovirus outbreaks reported since 2005.
Enterovirus is the most common cause of aseptic meningitis and can cause serious disease, especially in infants and the immuno-compromised.