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First Beijing death linked to China EV71 virus outbreak

Posted by Author on May 14, 2008

Reuters, Wed May 14, 2008-

BEIJING (Reuters) – China’s capital has recorded its first death from a recent outbreak of hand, foot and mouth disease as authorities try to contain the spread of a potent virus just three months before the city hosts the Olympic Games.

Beijing Health Bureau spokeswoman Deng Xiaohong said a 13-month-old boy from the city’s northern Changping District died on the way to a hospital on Sunday, taking the nationwide toll to 41.

She told Reuters on Wednesday that the child had tested positive for enterovirus 71 (EV71), a virus that has caused the majority of the deaths in the latest outbreak, which started weeks ago in the eastern province of Anhui’s Fuyang city.

Deng also said another child had died of the disease in a Beijing hospital, but that case would be recorded in neighbouring Hebei province, where the child contracted the disease. No further details of that case were disclosed.

Hand, foot and mouth disease is a common childhood illness, with a number of causes, but the current outbreak has been linked to the EV71 virus, which can cause a severe form of the disease, characterised by high fever, paralysis and meningitis.

There is no vaccine or antiviral agent available to treat or prevent EV71. Enteroviruses spread mostly through contact with infected blisters or faeces.

More than 27,500 cases have been reported in China as of last Friday, Xinhua said earlier, with the number of new cases in Anhui province starting to decline. Other deaths have been reported in the Guangdong, Hainan and Guangxi regions.

Following the Anhui outbreak, China issued a nationwide alert, closing some kindergartens and sending officials to visit nurseries and primary schools to educate staff on hygiene and prevention.

At least two Beijing kindergartens were suspended last week after children showed symptoms of the disease, but a Health Ministry spokesman said then that the number of cases was not abnormal……. (more details from Reuters)

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