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Cablegate: Deadly Enterovirus Strain Strikes U.S. Citizen In

This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 TAIPEI 003154

SIPDIS

STATE FOR EAP/RSP/TC AND OES/IHA

STATE PLEASE PASS TO AIT/W

HHS FOR ERICA ELVANDER

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: CASC TBIO OSCI OTRA SENV TW ESTH
SUBJECT: DEADLY ENTEROVIRUS STRAIN STRIKES U.S. CITIZEN IN
TAIWAN

1. Summary. AIT/T in cooperation with AIT/K has been
following the incidence of the infectious disease
enterovirus, which has thus far claimed 4 lives in Taiwan
this year. While this year, the disease appears less
prevalent than in some recent years past, it has caught
AIT's attention as one of its four victims was a U.S.
citizen. Discussions with Taiwan's Center for Disease
Control (TCDC) suggest this year's outbreak appears
contained and not a cause for undue alarm. End Summary.


Background
----------

2. Enterovirus, more commonly known as hand, foot and mouth
disease (HFMD), is a common illness of infants and children.
It is rarely fatal in most places in the world. However,
Taiwan has had outbreaks of a particularly virulent strain
called eEnterovirus 71 (E71), which has led to fatalities
every year since 1998.

3. Taiwan has followed the incidence of enterovirus very
closely ever since 1998 when it experienced a major outbreak
of the disease. In 1998, the disease resulted in 78 deaths.
In 1999, the disease claimed 9 lives, in 2000, it claimed 41
lives, in 2001, it claimed 58 lives, in 2002 it claimed 30
lives and in 2003 it claimed 8 lives.

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4. Taiwan's enterovirus 71 cases have tended to be
concentrated in the central and southern parts of Taiwan and
among babies under the age of one. According to TCDC's
monitoring record, the outbreak usually starts in mid-March
and reaches the peak between late May and early June. It
usually subsides during summer when schools are out and then
increases again in September.

5. So far in 2004, a total of 89 enterovirus cases have
been reported to TCDC. Twenty eight of the cases have been
confirmed as enterovirus. Four of the cases have resulted
in death. Of the 28 confirmed cases, six were in Taichung
County (one death), four in Taichung City, three in Changhua
County, one in Miaoli County and one in Nantou County.
There have been eight cases in southern Taiwan: three in
Tainan County (one death), two in Pingtung County (one
death), and one each in Kaohsiung county, Kaohsiung city and
Tainan City. There have also been five cases in northern
Taiwan, two in Taipei County and three in Taoyuan County
(one death). Thus far, there have been no reported cases
from Taipei. Most of the deaths have been confirmed as
Enterovirus 71.

Outlook Cautiously Optimistic
-----------------------------

6. On September 29, 2004, AIT/K was informed that a nine-
month old U.S. citizen, residing in Southern Taiwan's
Pingtung County, had died of enterovirus. Subsequently,
AIT/T and AIT/K both contacted their respective TCDC
contacts to obtain an update on the enterovirus threat.
Although little consolation to the family of the Amcit
victim or the other infant victims this year, TCDC officials
stress that the four deaths among a total of 28 confirmed
cases through September 27 this year compares favorably with
the 60 confirmed cases and six deaths Taiwan had experienced
during the same period in 2003. While they continue to
monitor closely the incidence of enterovirus, TCDC officials
told us that this year's outbreak appears relatively
controlled and do not believe it is cause for undue alarm.
AIT/T and AIT/K will continue to monitor the situation and
keep Washington apprised if this year's outbreak of
enterovirus in Taiwan appears to worsen significantly.

Paal

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