Hospitals in Australia’s capital have been ordered to establish an enhanced surveillance program following the outbreak of a dangerous childhood virus in NSW.
A nasty strain of enterovirus 71 (EV71) is believed to have killed four young children and put more than 100 in hospital with complications like meningitis and encephalitis (brain swelling) in NSW.
ACT Health told aww.com.au an EV71 advisory had been issued to the territory’s GP practices and hospital clinics and that it was sharing information with NSW Health.
“Enhanced surveillance is being undertaken at hospitals for EV71, however there has been no indication of an increase in serious cases in the ACT,” a spokesperson said.
“One advisory was sent to GP practices and hospital clinics. As there is no indication of an increase in the ACT no further advisories or alerts are required at this time.”
EV71 usually causes mild symptoms but can in rare cases, most often among under-twos, cause severe neurological symptoms.
A new strain, which has been circulating and causing deaths in Asia in recent years, is currently dominant for the first time in Australia.
Because it is not a notifiable disease, ACT Health said it could not provide figures on EV71 infections.