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Outbreak of HFM disease soar 150%

AN outbreak of hand, food and mouth disease has seen Shanghai cases soar by more than 150 percent in the first five months this year, signaling an early peak season.

By last Sunday (May 16), Shanghai reported 14,920 cases of the virus, 156.8 percent higher than the same period last year. The incidence across the nation is the same, Shanghai Health Bureau said today.

Ninety children were deemed serious cases and 71 were migrant children. By Sunday three migrant children had died, sparking instant action by health authorities, schools and parents, health officials said.

Among the 14,920 cases, 5,278 patients are local residents, a 158 percent jump from last year's 2,044 patients. There are 9,642 migrant children sickened by the disease, a 156 percent increase from last year.

Over 90 percent of patients are below five years old. Children under three account for nearly 60 percent of all cases.

About 38 percent are children in kindergartens, while nearly half are staying at home.

Health authorities said Shanghai has entered a peak season for hand, foot and mouth disease, requiring a sanitation campaign in crowded places such as schools, playgrounds and wet markets to stop the virus spreading.

According to monitoring, the disease is spread through Coxsackievirus A virus and Enterovirus 71 without viral mutation.

Experts said hand, foot and mouth disease is a preventable, controllable and treatable infectious disease, which is spread through saliva, blood and direct contact with infected people's belongings. The disease in most cases is mild and children can recover by themselves within seven to 10 days.

Frequent hand washing and drinking water, not eating raw food, good ventilation and sunshine can protect children.

Health authorities urged parents not to take their children to crowed places during the peak season, avoid contact with sick children and take children to hospital if they develop skin rashes or fever.


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