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Hand-foot-mouth infections rocket to 15,799
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The number of hand-foot-mouth disease (HFMD) cases reported in China this year rocketed to 15,799 as of Tuesday, resulting in 26 deaths, according to a Xinhua tally of local official figures.

The figure stood at 11,905 on Monday, Xinhua found.

HFMD is caused by up to 20 types of virus but has similar symptoms, and most of the cases involve young children.

The eastern Shanghai Municipality reported 1,988 infections. The populous Henan Province in central China had 1,385 cases. Jiangxi Province registered 114 sickened.

Southwest China's Yunnan Province had 113 cases and its neighboring Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region registered 169 cases.

The northeastern province of Jilin recorded 65 cases. The southernmost Hainan Province had 81 cases.

No deaths have been reported in these regions, local health authorities said on Tuesday.

Two kindergartens in Beijing were temporarily shut on Tuesday after children showed symptoms of the disease. There have been 1,482 cases in the national capital, the majority in kindergartens.

In Yunnan, nine cases were caused by the intestinal virus enterovirus 71 (EV71), while the others were caused by the Coxsackie A16 virus and Echo virus, two other kinds of enterovirus, said Duan Hong, the provincial health department deputy director.

So far, EV71 is blamed for most of the deaths in the outbreak of the disease.

EV71 can cause hand, foot and mouth disease, which usually starts with a slight fever followed by blisters and ulcers in the mouth and rashes on the hands and feet.

The Coxsackie A16 virus causes most cases of hand, foot and mouth syndrome. The major features are painful mouth ulcers and blisters on the palms, fingers and soles.

There is no vaccine and experts are still trying to find out effective treatment, but most children suffering from mild forms of the disease could recover. Preventive measures such as disinfection of tools and avoid populous public places are said to be helpful to stop the spread of the disease.

Outbreaks have also occurred in the provinces of Anhui, Jiangsu, Hunan, Hubei, Shaanxi, Henan, Hebei, Zhejiang, Guangdong, Jiangxi and the municipalities of Beijing and Chongqing.

(Xinhua News Agency May 7, 2008)

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