Dear colleagues and students,
In view of recent development of Zika virus infection locally and in other parts of the world, we would like to bring the following information to the attention of campus community.
The Government announced the first case of imported Zika Virus Infection last week. The patient lives in Tseung Kwan O, and had been hospitalized in isolation in United Christian Hospital. Environmental hygiene, especially mosquito control efforts in the areas visited by the patient, including Wan Chai, Tseung Kwan O and Sai Kung, has been intensified. The Government has reminded all citizens to pay attention to environmental hygiene, and prevention of mosquito bites and proliferation.
At the same time, Singapore has just announced more than 40 cases of ZVIs, and is fighting to reduce the risk of the virus from taking root in Singapore. There have also been sporadic reports of infections in various locations around the world, including Florida, USA.
Zika virus is transmitted to humans through bites of infected mosquitoes. The infection can be transmitted from pregnant mother to fetus, between partners through sexual activities, and potentially also through blood transfusion. The incubation period is typically 2-7 days.
Most people infected by Zika virus do not develop symptoms (asymptomatic). Those who do, develop symptoms including skin rash, fever, conjunctivitis, muscle or joint pain and general malaise. Symptoms are usually mild and most people recover within a few days. However, the most prominent health impact of ZVI is to pregnant women, causing serious neurological damage to fetuses, causing babies born with smaller than normal heads (microcephaly). The infection can also cause neurological and immune disorder such as Guillain-Barré syndrome in some people.
At present, there is no vaccine for Zika virus, therefore the main preventive measures are protection from mosquito bites and prevention of mosquito proliferation.
Measures on preventing mosquito-borne diseases
1. Wear loose, light coloured, long-sleeved tops and pants, avoid using fragrant cosmetics or personal products
2. Use DEET based insect repellent on exposed parts of the body and clothing, reapply periodically according to product instructions
3. Pregnant women and women preparing for pregnancy should not travel to areas with ongoing Zika virus transmission (see link to affected areas below).
4. Persons with immune disorders or severe chronic diseases should consult a doctor before traveling to such affected areas, and should adopt extra preventive measures to avoid mosquito bites.
5. Travellers returning from affected areas should use insect repellent for at least 21 days after arrival in Hong Kong. If feeling unwell, e.g. having fever, should seek medical advice promptly and provide travel details to doctor.
6. Travellers should practice abstinence or use condoms during travel to affected areas, and for at least 2 months upon return. If diagnosed with ZVI, they should practice abstinence or use condoms for at least 6 months.
Measures to prevent mosquito proliferation
The key is to prevent accumulation of stagnant water.
1. Change water vases at least once a week
2. Empty water in saucers under potted plants once a week
3. Cover water containers tightly
4. Ensure air conditioners drip trays are free of stagnant water
5. Dispose of garbage or recyclable materials properly, put all used cans and bottles into covered bins
For more information about the disease and preventive measures, please refer to the Center for Health Protection (CHP) webpages
Zika Virus Infection http://www.chp.gov.hk/en/view_content/43086.html
Fact sheet http://www.chp.gov.hk/en/content/9/24/43088.html
Affected areas http://www.chp.gov.hk/en/view_content/43209.html
Travel Advice http://wwwnc.cdc.gov/travel/page/zika-travel-information
For more information on control and prevention of mosquito breeding, please see webpage of Food and Environmental Hygiene Department (FEHD)
Preventive Measures on Campus
Other than this all-hands email, FMO will continue to step up measures with controlling mosquito breeding in our campus grounds. Pest control contractors will visit our campus more frequently to help reduce mosquito proliferation.
Our campus clinic will be on the watch out for potential cases and will remain in close contact with the Center for Health Protection. Please feel free to contact the Clinic or HSEO if you have any further questions.
Health, Safety and Environment Office