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18 kids die of hand-foot-mouth disease in China
Updated: 2009-03-27 11:46

BEIJING -- Hand-foot-mouth disease has claimed the lives of 18 Chinese children so far this year, as the disease has spread across the country, the Ministry of Health said Friday.

The ministry recorded 41,846 cases of hand-foot-mouth disease in 30 provinces and regions, excluding Tibet, in the past three months, ministry spokesman Deng Haihua said.

About 94 percent of the patients were children under five years old, 75 percent were affected by the virus EV71, and 94 suffered severe symptoms, Deng told a press conference in Beijing.

He said the number of the hand-foot-mouth cases was still increasing, and would reach its peak from May to July.

The disease had spread to a wider area, mainly in rural areas, Deng said, adding that a fifth of the cases reported this year were in Henan and Shandong provinces.