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CDC issues warning over viral gastroenteritis

2018/01/23 19:10:01

Taipei, Jan. 23 (CNA) A spike in reported cases of diarrhea in Taiwan recently has prompted the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) to warn of an outbreak of viral gastroenteritis in the country.

A total of 128,492 people sought outpatient and emergency treatment for diarrhea at local clinics and hospitals around Taiwan last week, up 13 percent from the previous week, according to statistics released Tuesday by the CDC.

Over the past four weeks, 25 cluster infections of diarrhea have been reported around Taiwan, 12 of which occurred on school campuses and were linked to norovirus, according to the CDC.

Kuo Hung-wei (郭宏偉), deputy head of the CDC's Epidemic Intelligence Center, said that winter is the prevalent season for viral gastroenteritis in Taiwan, with norovirus being the most common cause.

Norovirus is highly contagious and often spreads rapidly as a result of prolonged fecal shedding in affected patients, Kuo said, adding that kindergarten and elementary school children might be at increased risk for person-to-person norovirus transmission because it is easily spread from an infected person to another by close contact.

Norovirus is commonly transmitted through fecal contamination in food or water, person-to-person contact, and aerosolization with subsequent contamination of surfaces.

The symptoms include nausea, vomiting, diarrhea and stomach cramps. Sometimes people develop a slight fever, chills, headache, muscle pain and a general sense of tiredness.

The CDC urged people to wash their hands frequently, observe good personal and environmental hygiene, and eat only well-cooked foods, to prevent infection.

(By Chen Wei-ting and Evelyn Kao)