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May 19, 2010

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Home » Metro » Health and Science

3 children die as potent virus makes early arrival

THREE children in Shanghai have died of hand, foot and mouth disease so far this year in an alarming trend.

The peak season of the malady had arrived early and the 2010 strain of the virus was particularly powerful, the Shanghai Health Bureau said yesterday.

The suburban children who died were generally unsupervised and had migrant parents, according to education authorities. They did not attend city kindergartens and lived in conditions where hygiene was poor or non-existent, officials said.

The peak season for the virus arrived in Shanghai last month. By mid April, Shanghai reported 6,898 cases of hand, foot and mouth disease.

This was more than twice the number of cases for the same period of last year.

Among the cases, 2,475 were local children and 4,423 were migrants.

The bureau has intensified control and prevention efforts to combat the disease.

It has set up a special task force led by 18 medical experts who are on rotating duty 24 hours a day.

An enhanced monitoring system has been adopted that covers all city schools and kindergartens.

These schools must report any incidents to health authorities and face immediate temporary closures if a death or serious cases occur.

Red alerts are issued when two more cases are discovered in a class within a week or 10 more around campus during the same period.

Some city medical personnel have accepted further training to handle the disease as hospitals prepare extra beds to provide patients with instant and effective treatment.

The Children's Hospital of Fudan University and Xinhua Hospital, affiliated to Jiaotong University's School of Medicine, have been designated for serious cases. Two other city hospitals are on standby in case of an epidemic.

Last year, three children died of hand, foot and mouth disease, which usually peaks between May and July.

Health authorities were quick to say that members of the public should not panic about the disease, which can be prevented and controlled.

Spread by saliva, blood and direct contact with infected people's belongings, the disease typically affects infants and children up to six.

Children under four, however, are at greatest risk.

Although occasionally fatal, the disease in most cases is mild, with children recovering quickly.

Nationwide, 260 children had died of the disease by May 4, according to Ministry of Health figures.

Nearly 430,000 cases were reported around the country during the same period, a rise of more than 40 percent from the same period of last year.


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