May 4, 2008 in Nation/World

China heightens efforts to stop deadly virus

Charles Hutzler Associated Press
 

At a glance

Enterovirus

EV-71 can cause hand, foot and mouth disease, which causes fever, mouth sores and rashes with blisters.

Spread by contact with the stool or discharge from the sneezing or coughing of infected people, the viruses mainly strike children 10 years and younger. Some cases can lead to fatal brain swelling.

The illness is not related to the foot- and-mouth disease that hits livestock.

BEIJING – China today raised the death toll to 24 following the outbreak of a virus in another province a day after the Health Ministry ordered heightened efforts to stem the spread of infectious diseases.

Official Xinhua News Agency said an 18-month-old boy who died in Foshan city in Guangdong Friday had died of enterovirus, known as EV-71. Another child who died in the district April 25 also tested positive, it said. The deaths follow the 22 in central Anhui province, 1,000 miles to the north.

Stepped-up vigilance by health bureaus and hospitals to prevent the spread of infectious diseases was necessary “to guarantee the smooth staging of the Beijing Olympics and Paralympics and to … preserve social stability,” said the order posted on the ministry’s Web site.

Prompting the government to act was an unusual jump in cases of the enterovirus, known as EV-71, in Fuyang, a fast-growing city set in the rural heartland of central China.

As of early Saturday, 3,736 cases of EV-71 were reported in Fuyang’s mainly rural outskirts, a rise of 415 in about 24 hours, health officials said. Besides the 22 deaths, 1,115 people remain hospitalized, 42 of them in serious or critical condition, said the health department of Anhui Province, where Fuyang is located.

State-run television footage showed workers spraying disinfectant around houses in rural areas outside Fuyang and medical teams visiting families with small children.

Meanwhile, nearly 800 other cases were reported in other parts of Anhui, the health department said on its Web site.

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