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    1 十年前
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    (SCMP) 03月 17日 星期六 00:03AM

    Chickenpox cases hit monthly record

    Nearly 3,400 people were reported infected with chickenpox in January - a monthly record since the Department of Health added the acute infectious disease to its notification system in 1999.

    The department called on parents not to take infected children to school after it recorded 428 institutional outbreaks of chickenpox between December and last month.

    January's tally of 3,372 was more than a quarter of the total for all of last year, which was 14,429. The trend started at 585 in August and set a record of 2,688 in December. The previous record, 2,667, was set in December 2001. The department has not recorded more than 3,000 chickenpox cases in a month before.

    The total number of cases in 2004 and 2005 was 11,784 and 11,943 respectively.

    Of the 428 outbreaks recorded between December and February, 202 were seen in kindergartens and child-care centres, 223 in primary and secondary schools, and three in schools and training centres for the mentally handicapped. Patients were aged from two to 18.

    A spokeswoman said it was usual for the number of cases to fluctuate from time to time and the department would keep an eye on the trend.

    "In Hong Kong, chickenpox is commonly found all year round but is more active in the winter months," she said, adding that chickenpox, though highly infectious, was a mild disease and was usually self-limiting.

    She said sick children should be kept at home and excluded from school for about a week or until the skin lesions crusted, to prevent spreading the disease to others.

    A private paediatrician, Tse Hung-hing, said direct person-to-person contact was the main mode of transmission of chickenpox, which could be infectious during the incubation period without any symptoms.

    Children could easily infect each other when they played together and thus schools are commonly associated with chickenpox outbreaks, he added.

    Dr Tse said a chickenpox vaccine, more than 90 per cent effective, has been available for about a decade but not many parents took their children for the vaccination.

    "Chickenpox is common but it is not very dangerous. It can be treated with medicine effectively.

    "Therefore, many parents wouldn't bother taking their children to have a vaccination, which costs about HK$500 to HK$700 per shot, while usually one or two shots are recommended," the Medical Association council member said.

    The vaccine is not included in the government's free childhood immunisation programme.

    The Department of Health's spokeswoman said in considering whether to include a new vaccine in the programme, the department needs to take into account various scientific factors such as epidemiology, safety and cost-effectiveness.

    She said the Scientific Committee on Vaccine Preventable Diseases under the department conducts scientific assessments of new vaccines and combination vaccines, including chickenpox vaccine, from time to time.

  • 1 十年前

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