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HFMD takes lives of 3 local children

THREE children have died of hand, foot and mouth disease so far this year, prompting the Shanghai Health Bureau to warn residents yesterday to be vigilant about the disease, which usually peaks between May and July.

A bureau official said the city has recorded about 7,000 cases of HFMD this year but said the epidemic is stable and controllable.

The health authorities will increase public education about disease prevention and control, the bureau said.

The Shanghai Health Bureau reported this year's first local HFMD fatality on April 17 after a 29-month-old boy died in a city hospital the day before.

The boy, the son of migrant workers from Anhui Province, started to develop symptoms, including a fever and rash, on April 11 and was sent to hospital three days later.

He died of severe complications from the disease, which can include swelling of lungs, brain and heart tissues.

The bureau has not revealed details of the other two deaths.

HFMD was identified as a C-level infectious disease by the Ministry of Health last June.

Under the infectious disease laws, the government does not have to give regular reports on C-level epidemics.

The bureau reported the city's first HFMD death case on June 14 last year, when a two-year-old Henan Province boy died at the Shanghai Public Health Center.

The bureau did not say whether there were any other fatalities from the disease last year, but said 10,340 cases of the HFMD were recorded from January 1 to June 14 last year.

Health authorities said the public shouldn't panic about the disease.

"Hand, foot and mouth disease is preventable and controllable," said bureau official Song Guofan.

"High awareness and good personal hygiene are critical to prevent and control it. Parents should take children with syndromes to hospital and keep sick children home."

Parents and kindergarten teachers can help identify the disease by checking children's hands and feet for the telltale rash. Victims also usually have ulcers in the mouth.

Spread by saliva, blood and direct contact with infected persons or their belongings, the disease typically strikes infants and children up to age six, with those aged under four at highest risk.

The virus usually breaks out in the spring and peaks between May and July. HFMD is occasionally fatal, but most cases are mild, with children recovering quickly.


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