Virus hits Beijing - more children dying PDF Print E-mail
Wednesday, 07 May 2008 08:11

The hand, foot and mouth disease (HFMD) epidemic in China has continued its seeming inexorable march and has hit Beijing. 

According to the state-run Xinhua news agency, at least 42 children have died as a result of HFMD with over 24,934 cases having been reported so far, almost doubling within the last week.  The hardest hit area, the Anhui province in eastern China, has had 22 reported fatalities:



The official count of cases has climbed recently as the China Ministry of Health has mandated that all cases be reported.  During the initial onset of the illnesses, it appears that Fuyang officials, where the outbreak is believed to have started, suppressed the information despite the deaths of children.  With the virus spreading, the provincial government is attempting to contain the cases through quarantine, closing schools and spraying the streets with disinfectant.

More about HFMD 

According to the Centers for Disease Control, HFMD is commonly caused by coxsackievirus A16 and also by enterovirus 71 (EV-71).  The specific virus that is ravaging China at the moment is the EV-71 variety.  It should be noted that HFMD is not the same as foot and mouth disease which affects farm animals. 

The symptoms are HFMD are similar to the flu at first with the person presenting with a mild fever, lack of appetite and sometimes a sore throat.  However, after a one or two days of the fever, sores develop in the mouth followed by a rash that is typically concentrated on the hands and feet.

HFMD, unfortunately, cannot be prevented through a vaccine and once afflicted only the symptoms can be treated.  With the virus afflicting China's children, complications have occurred which have resulted in deaths due to polio-like paralysis.

The EV-71 virus requires direct contact and public health officials in China have been stressing basic hygiene practices including hand washing.  With the upcoming Olympics, this outbreak is garnering even more attention and creates yet another very real issue for a country beset with serious social and environmental challenges as well as the recent catastrophic earthquake in southwestern China.

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Last Updated on Friday, 16 May 2008 12:52