HFMD kills two more Chinese children; hundreds of new cases

Other News Materials 9 May 2008 16:21 (UTC +04:00)

The death toll from a virally transmitted hand-foot-mouth disease (HFMD) rose to 34 Friday after the worst-hit province reported two more child fatalities and state media said the number of recorded infections this year had jumped to 27,500, dpa reported.

The eastern province of Anhui, which is the worst affected area and reported the two new deaths and added 705 new cases on Friday, the the official Xinhua news agency reported.

Another 642 HFMD cases were reported in the southwestern province of Sichuan, with the southern island of Hainan and the central province of Hunan also reporting new cases, the agency said.

Gao Kaiyan, Anhui's the chief health officer, said the latest deaths were in the the provincial capital, Hefei, and in the city of Bozhou.

But there had been no new deaths for one week in Anhui's Fuyang city, where more than 5,000 cases of HFMD and 22 deaths were reported, the agency quoted Gao as saying.

Fuyang health officials reported 269 new cases on Wednesday and said 3,764 patients had recovered and 1,340 remained in hospital.

The World Health Organization on Wednesday said it was satisfied with China's efforts to curb the spread of infections.

"China has the capacity, both at the central and local level, to control this disease," Hans Troedsson, the WHO representative in China, told reporters.

HFMD is a common childhood disease that causes symptoms including ulcers and blisters in the mouth, rashes on the hands and feet and fever.

It is spread mainly by enterovirus or EV71, which is from the same family as the polio virus, but it can also be transmitted by several other viruses.

China recorded more than 80,000 HFMD cases and 17 deaths in 2007, the health ministry said.

Troedsson said there was no indication that the enterovirus had mutated into a more virulent strain in China.

The sudden reporting of thousands of cases and the increase in deaths this year appeared to be due to a delay in identifying the initial outbreak, he said.

The WHO said last week that Chinese health authorities were expecting more deaths and believed the virus would peak in June or July.

HFMD mainly affects infants and young children and is life- threatening in a small number of cases owing to complications such as lung haemorrhage and meningitis.

It has also infected more than 3,000 children in Vietnam since the start of the year, killing at least 10, Vietnamese health officials said Wednesday.