Report: Child viral death toll up to 34 in China
May 9,2008

BEIJING (AP) — The death toll from a viral illness that is striking children across China has risen by four to 34, while the number of reported infections jumped to nearly 25,000, state media reported Friday.

Two of the latest deaths occurred in the hardest-hit central province of Anhui, where 22 children have already died of hand, foot and mouth disease, the official Xinhua News Agency said.

The other two deaths were reported in the southern province of Guangdong and in neighboring Guangxi, the agency said.

In Guangdong, an 8-month-old girl died of the disease early Monday. She tested positive for enterovirus 71, which can cause a severe form of hand, foot and mouth disease, a common childhood ailment that typically causes little more than a fever and rash, Xinhua said. The disease is unrelated to the foot and mouth disease that affects livestock.

An 18-month-old boy died after falling into a coma in Guangxi, the agency said.

As of late Thursday, the number of reported cases of the disease jumped to 24,932, up from 19,962 a day earlier, Xinhua said.

Health experts have said they expect the number of reported infections to rise as a result of an order issued this week by the Ministry of Health requiring health care providers to report infections within 24 hours. The disease is expected to peak in the hot months of June and July.

Hand, foot and mouth disease spreads through contact with saliva, feces, fluid secreted from blisters or mucus from the nose and throat. There is no vaccine or specific treatment, but most children affected by the disease typically recover quickly after suffering little more than a fever and rash.

Last year, 80,000 hand, foot and mouth cases were recorded nationwide with 17 deaths, the health ministry has said. Spokesman Mao Qun'an said the figures were probably incomplete because reporting was not mandatory then.

Original article: USA Today
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