CDC warns against unsafe China travel


TAIPEI, Taiwan — As the hand, foot and mouth disease (HFMD) epidemic is reaching an alarming level in China, Taiwan’s Center for Disease Control (CDC) yesterday advised parents against traveling with their children to China’s affected areas. “If not necessary, we suggest parents not to visit HFMD epidemic areas, especially in Guangdong province, with little children, or they should be very careful,” said Chou Jih-haw, the CDC’s deputy director. He said that in Guangdong province alone, the number of accumulated cases of the disease has already reached about 14,800, with seven deaths. In China, a total of 25,000 infections were recorded, including 39 deaths.

The epidemic situation is most serious in China’s Guangdong, Anhui and Zhejiang provinces.

According to the World Health Organization, HFMD is a common and usually mild childhood disease. Enterovirus 71 is a frequent cause of HFMD epidemics associated with neurological diseases in a small proportion of cases.

In Taiwan, 19 new cases of HFMD were recorded last week, making the total number of confirmed serious cases reach 83 this year, with two deaths, said Chou.

The 19 new cases occurred mostly in southern Taiwan, with five cases in Kaohsiung County, four in Kaohsiung City, and three in Pingtung County. Half of the enterovirus infections in these three municipalities have been confirmed, Chou added.

He said that more than 90 percent of the 83 cases in Taiwan are children under four years of age.