Mass intestinal virus infection up to 1,520, kills 20

Updated: 2008-04-29 14:29

HEFEI -- A lethal outbreak of intestinal virus in Fuyang City in east China's Anhui Province has killed 20 children and befallen 1,500 others, the provincial health department said on Tuesday.

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Du Changzhi, Anhui Provincial Health Department deputy chief, said the virus, known as enterovirus 71, or EV71, had altogether sickened 1,520 children, claiming 20 lives by Tuesday morning.

Of the sick, 585 had recovered thus far. At present, 412 sick children have remained in hospital for further medical observation. Of the total, 26 are seriously ill.

"Plenty of medical workers from other areas have been mobilized to Fuyang," the health official said. "They are joined by many experts sent by the Ministry of Health in an all-out effort to treat and save lives of the sick children."

Hospitals in Fuyang in northwest Anhui started to take in children with fever, blisters, mouth ulcers and rashes on the hands and feet in early March. Some were diagnosed with brain, heart and lung damage.

All were aged below six, of whom the majority being under two.

Enterovirus 71 can cause hand, foot and mouth disease that  usually starts with a slight fever followed by blisters of ulcers in the mouth and rashes on hands and feet.

It may also cause high fever, meningitis, encephalitis, pulmonary edema and paralysis in a small number of children.

Paralysis is more common in children under two years and meningitis is more common in children between two and five. Infection could lead to high mortalities rates in serious cases and neither a vaccine nor therapeutic treatment is available.

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