Parainfluenza virus found in Hong Kong patients

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The Hong Kong Centre for Health Protection (CHP) of the Department of Health has received a report from the University of Hong Kong that laboratory tests using reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction(RT-PCR) method on three out of the seven specimens taken from patients of the Caritas Medical Centre (CMC) outbreak yielded positive results to parainfluenza virus (PIV), but all the seven specimens were negative for other common respiratory pathogens.

A CHP spokesman said PIVs are spread by respiratory secretions through close contact with infected persons or contact with contaminated surfaces or objects.

"Infections caused by PIVs are common, especillay in infant and small children. Severe illnesses, however, could occur among young children and patients with immunodeficiencies. The incubation period is generally from one to seven days.

"Infection can occur when infectious material contacts mucous membranes of the eyes, mouth or nose, and possibility through the inhalation of droplets generated by a sneeze or cough," the spokesman said.

Laboratory tests on other specimens are still proceeding.

As at 10 am today, a total of 32 children comprising 19 boys and 13 girls, aged between four and 17, in the Development Disability Unit of CMC are found to have suffered from respiratory disease. Two of them are still having fever.

The spokesman said the enhanced infection control measures being implemented at the affected wards in CMC are effective to prevent the spread of PIV.

"In a hospital setting, spread of PIVs can and should be prevented by strict attention to droplet and contact precautions, such as handwashing, as well as wearing of masks, gowns and gloves," the spokesman said.

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