Flu outbreak in Taiwan escalates; one patient dies: CDC

Taipei-The number of people in Taiwan seeking medical treatment for flu-like symptoms rose last week to more than 100,000, while one person died after contracting Type B influenza, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) said Tuesday.

CDC Epidemic Intelligence Center Director Liu Ting-ping (???) said 101,364 people sought treatment for flu-like illnesses in the week ending Jan. 6, which was a 4 percent increase from the previous week.

He said 21 of the newly diagnosed flu patients developed severe complications and it was determined that 19 of them had not received the most recent flu vaccine.

In one case, the patient died of pneumonia after contracting the Type B influenza virus, CDC doctor Tsou Tsung-pei (???) said, adding that the 77-year-old man also had cancer and a history of chronic disease.

During the last four weeks, there were 31 cluster infections, 21 of which were in schools, the CDC said.

CDC monitoring data indicates that since Oct. 1, 2017, a total of 119 patients have been diagnosed with severe flu complications, and 11 have died.

Two of the deaths resulted from the Type A H3N2 virus, and nine from the Type B virus, while 72 percent of the confirmed severe cases were also Type B virus infections, according to the data.

CDC Deputy Director-General Chuang Jen-hsiang (???) said the flu outbreak is likely to continue to escalate in January, peaking around the end of the month, as influenza viruses tend to be more active in low temperatures.

He advised that people wash their hands often, wear face masks and observe proper etiquette if they have a cough.

People with flu symptoms should seek medical treatment that includes antiviral drugs and remain at home to avoid spreading the virus, Chuang said.

There are approximately 100,000 doses of free flu vaccine shots still available, he said, urging vaccination of people in high-risk groups, including children and patients with chronic diseases.

Although the flu vaccine in Taiwan is not effective against the most prevalent virus this year, it will provide about 30 percent protection and reduce the risk of severe symptoms and death, Chuang said earlier this month.

The government-funded vaccine is against the Victoria lineage, while most flu cases so far this year in Taiwan have been caused by the Type B virus in the Yamagata lineage, he said.

According to the American Society for Microbiology Journal of Clinical Microbiology, the influenza B virus has diverged into two antigenically virus lineages, the Yamagata and Victoria, since the 1970s.

Source: Focus Taiwan News Channel