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Dengue Fever
Interdepartmental Coordinating Committee on Mosquito-borne Diseases meets on local cases of dengue fever and Zika virus infection (with photo)
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     The Interdepartmental Coordinating Committee on Mosquito-borne Diseases (ICC) convened an urgent meeting today (September 7) for three local dengue fever (DF) cases, and to examine the latest situation of DF as well as the risk of Zika virus infection and mosquito control actions that need to be strengthened.
 
     "There are three local cases of DF reported in Hong Kong in the last two months. As the three patients live in Central and Mid-levels areas and were infected with serotype 3 dengue virus, the Centre for Health Protection (CHP) of the Department of Health (DH) is collaborating with the Food and Environmental Hygiene Department (FEHD) and other relevant government departments on implementing rigorous mosquito control measures," the Chairman of the ICC and Controller of the CHP of the DH, Dr Leung Ting-hung, said.
 
     Officers of the CHP have conducted epidemiological investigations and health talks in vicinities where the three patients frequented for active case finding, as well as medical surveillance for contacts. No abnormalities have been detected so far. Dr Leung urged persons who have been to the vicinity of Central and Central Mid-Levels with DF symptoms should call the CHP's hotline (2125 2266) for laboratory investigation or referral as appropriate. The hotline operates from 9am to 6pm between Monday and Friday to receive enquires.
 
    “The FEHD has conducted entomological surveys and mosquito preventive and control work, including removal of stagnant water and disused articles, in areas within 500 metres radius from the residence of the patients, the hospitals concerned, and places they visited during the incubation and infectious period. The FEHD will also collect samples of Aedes albopictus from the relevant areas for laboratory testing to ascertain whether they carry any virus, with a view to tracing the sources of DF infection. The FEHD has also advised relevant government departments and persons-in-charge of construction sites, schools and private housing estates to step up anti-mosquito work in areas under their management,” the Pest Control Officer-in-charge of the FEHD, Mr Lee Ming-wai, said.
 
     Persons who live, work or have activities in the above areas should take heed of the mosquito control measures as well as personal protection measures to prevent mosquito bite. They should make reports to government departments via the hotline 1823 if mosquito problems are detected.
 
     To date, 87 DF cases have been confirmed in 2016, comprising 84 imported and three local cases. In 2015, there were 114 cases, comprising two local, 110 imported and two unclassified cases. In 2014, there were 112 cases, including three local and 109 imported cases.
 
     Dr Leung reminded the members of public that apart from using DEET-containing insect repellents during travel, upon returning to Hong Kong from DF endemic areas travellers should continue to do so for 14 days to avoid secondary spread by infected mosquitoes arising from imported infections.
  
     The meeting today also discussed the latest situation of Zika virus infection. The participants are very concern about the emerging local Zika cases in Southeast Asia area as well as the speed of local spread and possible importation to neighbouring areas. The CHP reported the updated recommendations of the World Health Organization (WHO) that length of time for safer sex practices or abstinence for males and females returning from areas with active Zika virus transmission should be at least six months, regardless of whether they are showing symptoms.

    The WHO said the update was based on new evidence on Zika transmission from asymptomatic males to their female partners and a symptomatic female to her male partner, as well as evidence that Zika is present in semen for longer than thought. A male patient had Zika virus found in his semen 188 days after the onset of symptoms while another Zika patient had 100,000 times more Zika virus in his semen than in his blood 14 days after diagnosis.
 
     “We would like to draw the public attention that we have updated the related health advice of Hong Kong in accordance with the WHO’s amendments. As Hong Kong is facing risks of importation of various vector-borne diseases (VBDs) including Zika and DF, all sectors should step up efforts on mosquito control and members of the public should use insect repellents to protect themselves, their families and the community. Travellers should adopt strict anti-mosquito measures and safe sex to prevent Zika virus infection during and after travel. Those returning from affected areas should apply insect repellents for at least 21 days upon arrival,” Dr Leung said.
 
     Besides, Tourism Commission held a meeting on September 5 with the assistance of Port Health Office of the DH and other related departments with cruise tourism trade, mainly to update them on the latest situation of Zika virus infection, discuss measures to prevent the outbreak of Zika Virus at their places, and inform them of the mechanism established by the DH to handle the suspected cases of Zika virus. Representatives of two theme parks in Hong Kong were also invited to attend the meeting, so as to facilitate the implementation of early suitable plans preventing the spread of Zika virus in their theme parks as well.
 
     "Strict environmental hygiene, mosquito control and personal protective measures remain the most effective means against VBDs like DF and Zika. Both the public and private sectors should carry out all-out efforts and prevent the accumulation of stagnant water. Individuals should also take heed of the preventive measures. Members of the public are reminded to make reports to government departments via the hotline 1823 if mosquito problems are detected,” Dr Leung appealed.
 
     Today, 17 government bureaux, departments or organisations attended the meeting. They are the Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department, the Civil Engineering and Development Department, the Drainage Services Department, the Education Bureau, the Electrical and Mechanical Services Department, the FEHD, the DH, the Highways Department, the Home Affairs Department, the Hospital Authority, the Housing Department, the Information Services Department, the Lands Department, the Leisure and Cultural Services Department, the Social Welfare Department, the Transport Department and the Water Supplies Department.

 
Ends/Wednesday, September 7, 2016 
Issued at HKT 20:58