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Meningitis Kept in Check in Eastern Provinces

When Wu Hao, a junior high student, left hospital on Wednesday, he was the second person to recover from type C meningitis in the outbreak near Dongtai, a city in east China's Jiangsu Province.

The remaining four are in a stable condition and are expected to recover in the next few days, said He Qing, director of the local hospital.

Between January 21 and 26, six children from a junior high school in Tangyang, 50 km from Dongtai, came down with symptoms including fever, vomiting and stiff necks.

After being diagnosed, the six were quarantined and treated by doctors and experts sent from Dongtai. The school was disinfected and all the students and teachers vaccinated.

Wang Zhongze, deputy director of Dongtai's disease prevention and control center, said that thanks to effective prevention measures, by Wednesday a week had passed with no new reported cases.

No new cases have also been reported for 10 straight days in Wuhu City, in the neighboring province of Anhui. All the patients there have recovered, with the last one leaving hospital the same day as Wu Hao.

According to Yang Xiaoxiang, director of the city's disease prevention and control center, more than 130,000 locals have been immunized so far.

Sources from Anhui Provincial Health Department said on Thursday that the province's outbreak has been brought under control with five people still in recovery and in a stable condition.

Since December 20, 62 people with meningitis have been reported in Anhui, six of whom have died and 51 recovered.

Meningitis is an inflammation of membranes surrounding the brain and spinal cord, and can have a number of different causes, including both bacteria and viruses. Symptoms include fever, vomiting and intense headache, and some forms of bacterial meningitis (including type C) are contagious through close contact via respiratory secretions.

Official sources said that type C meningitis was first reported in Anhui in September 2003, in the eastern county of Qingyang. Previous outbreaks were usually caused by type A bacteria.

Teenagers aged 13 to 18 years are the major group affected by the epidemic. Seventy-seven percent of patients in Anhui are elementary or middle school children.

Meningitis infections are not uncommon in Anhui, and usually peak in spring and winter. It can be cured and prevented from spreading with effective controls, said Gao Kaiyan, director of the Provincial Health Department.

(Xinhua News Agency February 4, 2005)

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