Taipei--The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) urged the public on Tuesday to pay more attention to personal hygiene as weekly figures for incidences of diarrhea caused by norovirus infection hit a new high for the year.
According to the agency, the number of people seeking treatment for diarrhea in emergency rooms reached 143,000 from Feb. 12-18, compared with 121,000, 106,000 and 135,000 over the preceding three weeks.
The public should take precautions against infection, said CDC Deputy Director General Luo Yi-chun (???), adding that the period of norovirus infection is reaching its peak.
He pointed out that the norovirus was responsible for 62 of the 74 diarrhea clusters (a cluster being two cases or more) since the start of 2017.
The emergence of the GII.2 norovirus variant identified last September has made the situation even more severe because immunity is particularly low.
Personal hygiene is especially important in schools, Luo said, adding that 15 of the 21 diarrhea clusters recorded from Feb. 12-18 were in schools.
Given that the norovirus is highly contagious and most people are not immune to the new strain, a major increase is likely around the four-day 228 Memorial Day weekend when travel increases, he said.
The norovirus is commonly transmitted through fecal contamination in food or water, person-to-person contact, and aerosolization with subsequent contamination of surfaces.
Symptoms include nausea, vomiting, diarrhea and stomach cramps. Sometimes those infected develop a slight fever, chills, a headache, muscle pains and a general sense of lethargy.
The CDC urged people to wash their hands frequently, observe good personal and environmental hygiene, and eat only well-cooked food, to prevent infection.
Source: Focus Taiwan News Channel