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Boys' deaths spark rabies vaccine investigation
By Zhan Lisheng in Guangzhou and Zhang Feng in Beijing (China Daily)
Updated: 2005-07-16 07:12

A major investigation is under way following the deaths of two boys who received rabies inoculations in Guandong Province.

Both deaths occurred less than two weeks apart in Guangdong's Wengyuan County, and now the food and drug administration is looking into the batch of the vaccine concerned.

Zhong Yuwang died of rabies on June 28 after being bitten by a dog on his left hand and foot. He had received a month long course of four injections against the disease, but instead of speeding his recovery, the drug seemed to make him weaker, officials said.

A few days after Zhong's death, another boy died of the same symptoms after he had received the same treatment at the same clinic.

Initial investigations indicate that improper storage of the vaccine during transportation somehow affected the vaccine, making it ineffective in fighting against the disease, said He Jingquan, a director with the provincial food and drug administration.

He said the vaccine was not kept refrigerated during its two-hour journey from a drug wholesaler in Shaoguan to the family planning service centre in Wengyuan, where the boys received their injections.

The investigation has also uncovered that neither the medical service facility nor the drug wholesaler in Shaoguan were properly qualified to handle the vaccine, he said.
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