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North China city rushes to contain HFMD spread
Updated: 2009-06-25 21:47

HOHHOT: Health authorities in Hohhot City in north China's Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region said Thursday that they had closed 110 kindergartens for fear of an outbreak of hand-foot-mouth disease (HFMD).

Public health workers have monitored a rapid increase in the number of hand-foot-mouth cases among children in Hohhot since June 1, said Jin Manyi, deputy director of the Health Bureau of Hohhot City, the regional capital of Inner Mongolia,

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He said all the closed kindergartens failed to meet hygiene standards, and were unlicensed and in areas between urban and rural districts.

"We don't rule out a possibility of an outbreak of the disease in the near future," he said.

Hohhot has had 2,219 confirmed cases of hand-foot-mouth disease since the beginning of this year. A four-year-old boy, whose identity was not disclosed, died of the disease in April not long after he developed symptoms. Lab work showed that the pre-schooler died of an infection by intestinal virus EV71.

Out of the 2,219 cases, higher than last year's whole-year total, 1,166 occurred in the first 23 days of this month.

HFMD is a common illness that mainly affects children under the age of ten. It can be caused by a host of intestinal viruses, but EV71 and the Coxsackievirus (Cox A16) were the most common, said the Chinese Ministry of Health. It can lead to meningitis, encephalitis, pulmonary edema and paralysis in some children. There is no vaccine.

The disease was mainly reported in rural areas of the country, said the ministry.

Apart from the number of cases in Inner Mongolia, Henan in central China has been hardest hit by the disease which had killed at least 34 children this year as of May 5. In eastern Shandong province 31 had died as of May 11.