64 students contract hepatitis A

By Liu Li (China Daily)
Updated: 2006-12-21 06:53

Sixty-four students at a university in Nanchang, in East China's Jiangxi Province, have contracted hepatitis A in the latest outbreak of the disease.

The Jiangxi Provincial Health Department is investigating the outbreak at Jiangxi University of Traditional Chinese Medicine, the department director, surnamed Zhu, told China Daily yesterday.

Students at the university's suburban Wanli branch campus said they started noticing a loss of appetite and physical strength last Sunday, sources said.

All 64 students have been sent to hospital and are in stable condition.

The department said more people from the campus may have caught the highly infectious disease because its incubation period could last up to 30 days, meaning more infections could emerge.

The provincial health department has invoked its public health emergency plans and created an anti-hepatitis A task force.

Health departments at the provincial, city and district levels have already been mobilized to control the further spread of the disease.

Medical workers will supervise the disinfection of the infected students' dormitory rooms as well as public places on the campus.

People who have had close contact with the patients have been vaccinated.

Earlier this week, 38 students at a boarding school in South China's Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region were also confirmed to have contracted hepatitis A, and 30 others are suspected of coming down with the disease.

An initial investigation suggested that contaminated drinking water was behind that outbreak. The first case appeared on November 23, and the outbreak spread on December 6.

In August, an outbreak of hepatitis A infected 69 high school students in Guangxi as well.

Hepatitis A is transmitted through bodily fluids and faeces.

Food contaminated with the virus is the most common vehicle for transmitting hepatitis A. The disease is also spread through contact between people.

In general, hepatitis, or inflammation of the liver, is caused by infectious or toxic agents and characterized by jaundice, fever, liver enlargement and abdominal pain.

(China Daily 12/21/2006 page3)

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