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May 3, 2013

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Season begins for hand, foot, mouth disease

THREE children were killed by hand, foot and mouth disease in Shanghai last year, and while officials said the disease is under control, they were asking parents and others to be aware that the peak season for the illness in Shanghai - between May and July - has started.

Last year, the number of cases rose by 45 percent among local children and 32 percent among migrant children compared with previous year, according to the annual infectious disease report released by Shanghai Health and Family Planning Commission.

Commission officials are warning parents and kindergartens to be alert for symptoms since the illness usually peaks between May and July in Shanghai.

Symptoms include fever, blister-like sores in the mouth, and a skin rash.

The virus spreads easily through coughing and sneezing. It can also spread through infected stool. Prevention includes frequent washing of hands, disinfection of surfaces and avoiding close contact with others.

Children aged three and younger are hit the hardest.

Hand, foot and mouth disease shot up nationally last year, with over 2.17 million cases, a 33 annual increase. Mortality also was 10.8 percent higher with 567 deaths last year.

Song Guofan, a commission official, said most of the deaths were migrant children, whose parents failed to send the children to hospital in time.

Shanghai Children's Medical Center officials saw 380 children with hand, foot and mouth disease last month and the number is expected to rise sharply this month. Last May, the center saw about 1,500 patients, triple the number of the previous month.


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