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Dengue Fever
CHP urges heightened vigilance against mosquito-borne diseases

     The Centre for Health Protection (CHP) of the Department of Health today (September 1) urged both the public and the healthcare sector to heighten vigilance amid risks of mosquito-borne diseases including Zika Virus Infection, chikungunya fever (CF) and dengue fever (DF).
A. Zika Virus Infection
     Regarding the latest situation in Singapore, a spokesman for the CHP said, "We are concerned about emerging local Zika cases in Singapore as well as the speed of local spread and possible importation to neighbouring areas. We are closely monitoring the additional cases and are communicating with the Ministry of Health of Singapore for more information and the Regional Office for the Western Pacific of the World Health Organization (WHO) on the situation in Thailand and Malaysia."
     In addition, in the United States (US), according to the Florida Department of Health, apart from Miami-Dade County and Pinellas County confirmed with local cases, local cases were also reported in Palm Beach County. To date, 569 imported and 47 local cases have been recorded in Florida.
     "Locally, our current prevention and control strategy against Zika, including travel health advice, is in line with recommendations of the WHO and overseas health authorities including the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention of the US. We will continue to closely monitor the latest disease situation outside Hong Kong and revise our strategy and measures if necessary," the spokesman stressed.
B. Chikungunya fever
     From August 26 to 31, three imported CF cases were confirmed and all patients had been to India during the incubation period (IP). Including a case in March imported from the Philippines, four cases had been recorded in 2016 so far and all were imported. In 2015 and 2014, one and two imported cases were filed respectively.
     "CF is a mosquito-borne disease caused by the chikungunya virus. It is clinically characterised by fever frequently accompanied by joint pain. Other common signs and symptoms include muscle pain, headache, nausea, fatigue and rash. Joint pain is often very debilitating, but usually lasts for a few days or may be prolonged to weeks. Most patients recover fully, but in some cases joint pain may persist for several months, or even years," the spokesman said.
     Chikungunya virus is transmitted to humans by mosquito bites. Although one vector, Aedes aegypti, is not found in Hong Kong, the other vector, Aedes albopictus, is widely distributed locally. These mosquitoes can be found biting throughout daylight hours, though there may be peaks of activity in the early morning and late afternoon.
     "While the CHP's epidemiological investigations and medical surveillance are ongoing, the Food and Environmental Hygiene Department (FEHD) has been swiftly informed for vector investigations and control. Prevention and control relies heavily on reducing the number of natural and artificial water-filled container habitats which support breeding of mosquitoes," the spokesman added.
C. Dengue fever
     From August 26 to 31, one additional imported DF case was confirmed and the patient had been to Thailand during the IP. The 80 imported cases so far in 2016 were mainly from Indonesia (30), Thailand (11) and the Philippines (11).
     "Regarding the local case recorded on August 29 and that suspected to be acquired locally reported on August 6, further genetic analysis revealed that the sequences of serotype 3 dengue virus of both patients' specimens were identical, supporting the epidemiological relationship. Extensive investigations with the FEHD are ongoing with a view to controlling the possible spread," the spokesman said.
     Epidemiological investigations, active case finding and health talks in vicinities where patients frequented and medical surveillance have been conducted. To date, no abnormalities have been detected. The public should call the DF hotline (2125 2266) for testing or referral if symptoms develop.
     Hong Kong is expecting normal to above-normal temperature from September to November. In view of warm temperatures and occasional rain, all sectors and members of the public should spare no effort in mosquito control including removing stagnant water accumulated, which is favourable for mosquitoes to breed in, in both the community and household settings after rain even in autumn to prevent possible transmission of mosquito-borne diseases.

Ends/Thursday, September 1, 2016
Issued at HKT 18:27