China's Ministry of Health said on Monday it wants communities across the country to report within 12 to 24 hours any outbreak of several deadly diseases including encephalitis B, meningitis, leprosy and West Nile Virus.
Over the last couple of years China has reported between 5,000 and 10,000 cases encephalitis B cases a year. Some local areas have been ravaged by severe outbreaks.
The ministry called encephalitis B a major infectious disease threatening human health, noting that children were especially vulnerable. Young people who contract the disease are more likely to die or suffer disability.
China saw two widespread outbreaks of encephalitis B in the 1960s and the 1970s, prompting a nationwide vaccination campaign.
The ministry has instructed local medical institutes to directly report suspected cases of the four diseases to local health authorities, who are ordered to send this information to national disease control centers.
Cities and rural areas are required to report cases to disease control centers within 12 to 24 hours.
The ministry asked provincial centers for disease control to investigate suspicious outbreaks.
China reported an infectious rate for meningitis of two per million people in recent years.
At the end of 2005, China reported 500,000 registered leprosy cases, 60 percent of them in China's southwestern areas.
(Xinhua News Agency July 4, 2006)