China says 6,300 cases in viral outbreak
Enterovirus 71 causes a severe form of hand, foot and mouth disease
A viral outbreak in China has sickened more than 6,300 people and killed another child, raising the death toll to 26 children, authorities said Monday, according to AP.
The latest fatality from enterovirus 71 was in coastal Zhejiang province, the provincial Health Ministry said. It said 1,198 other children have been stricken in the province with the virus, also known as EV-71.
It appealed for any sick children "to be sent immediately to health clinics" and for the cases to be reported "immediately to health and education departments."
An additional 5,151 cases have been reported in neighboring Anhui province, where 22 children have died, according to the official Xinhua News Agency. Most of the cases were near Fuyang, a fast-growing city in the central province`s rural heartland.
Xinhua also reported three deaths in the southern province of Guangdong.
Enterovirus 71 causes a severe form of hand, foot and mouth disease with symptoms including fever, mouth sores and rashes with blisters. It is easily spread by sneezing or coughing. The virus mainly strikes children aged 10 or younger. Some cases lead to paralysis and fatal swelling of the brain.
The illness is not related to foot and mouth disease, which afflicts livestock.
There is no vaccine or specific treatment, but most children affected by mild forms of the disease typically recover quickly without problems.
The World Health Organization says the virus normally peaks in June and July so there could still be an increase in infections as the weather warms.
The outbreak is another headache for China`s Communist government as it prepares to host this summer`s Olympic Games, already tarnished by unrest among Tibetans in western China and an international torch relay disrupted by protests.
WHO`s China representative, Hans Troedsson, said the disease was not a threat to the Beijing Olympics because the disease mostly sickens young children.
China`s Health Ministry has sent teams to Anhui to coordinate treatment of the disease and prevent its spread.
State-run television showed workers spraying disinfectant around houses in rural areas outside Fuyang and medical teams visiting families with small children.