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CDC sees enterovirus endemic period in Taiwan starting soon

04/21/2024 08:05 PM
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Peng Chun-chih, an expert from the Formosan Medical Association, calls for vaccination to protect children from the possible enterovirus epidemic in Taipei on Sunday. CNA photo April 21, 2024
Peng Chun-chih, an expert from the Formosan Medical Association, calls for vaccination to protect children from the possible enterovirus epidemic in Taipei on Sunday. CNA photo April 21, 2024

Taipei, April 21 (CNA) The epidemic period of enterovirus --defined as 11,000 hospital visits per week -- will likely start at the end of April, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) has predicted.

For the week from April 7 to April 13, there were 9,256 hospital visits for enterovirus, the most recorded for the same period in nearly 10 years, CDC disease data published on April 15 showed.

Based on those figures and this year's enterovirus infection trend, Taiwan is expected to enter the enterovirus epidemic period at the end of this month, according to the CDC.

Chiu Nan-chang (邱南昌), former president of the Taiwan Pediatric Infectious Disease Alliance, said Sunday that enterovirus infections occur most commonly during the summer, with cases typically increasing in April, peaking in June and ebbing in July and August during the summer break.

Then another wave usually starts when schools open in September, Chiu said.

In Taiwan, there seems to be a nationwide enterovirus epidemic every three to five years but there has been no such epidemic over the past five years due to the impact of the COVD-19 pandemic, Chiu said.

With outdoor temperatures rising earlier than usual this year, the weekly number of enterovirus infections has been higher than in previous years, Chiu said, and he was worried that the epidemic period might be earlier than usual this year.

Of particular concern, Chiu said, was the enterovirus 71 (EV71) strain, saying EV71 infection can cause severe complications, including encephalitis, cardiorespiratory failure, and acute flaccid paralysis.

Meanwhile, Peng Chun-chih (彭純芝), an expert from the Formosan Medical Association, said children under the age of 2 are especially at risk for enterovirus infections and are more prone to critical complications and death.

On of the best ways to protect them from enterovirus infections, she said, was to get them vaccinated.

Currently, two vaccines have been approved for enterovirus A71 in Taiwan. Both are suitable for infants over 2 months and under 6 years old, according to the CDC.

(By Tseng Yi-ning and Evelyn Kao)

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