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30 Gas Gangrene cases confirmed in Chengdu
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Thirty patients in Sichuan University's Huaxi Hospital have been infected with gas gangrene, according to sources at the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CCDCP). An isolation ward has been set up to prevent the disease spreading. All patients injured in the quake arriving at Huaxi Hospital will be sent to the isolation ward for diagnosis on arrival.

Five patients diagnosed with gas gangrene disease on May 14 are in a stable condition, according to Shi Yingkang, the dean of Huaxi Hospital.

Gas gangrene is a bacterial infection that produces gas within gangrenous tissue. People with open fractures are particularly susceptible. It is caused by the clostridium bacteria and if left untreated is usually fatal within 12 hours. Isolation of patients and effective disinfection can prevent cross infection. It takes about five minutes to diagnose the disease by testing wound secretions.

There have been no cases of cross infection in Huaxi Hospital so far. But rescuers in the quake-hit region have been warned not to make direct contact with survivors' skin, and to follow effective disinfection procedures.

Experts from CCDCP say isolation wards should be set up in all hospitals receiving patients from quake-hit area. All injured persons transferred from the quake area should be first sent to isolation wards to be checked for gas gangrene. If gas gangrene is suspected, treatment must begin immediately. Thoroughly cleaning wounds, removing foreign objects and dead tissue is the best way to prevent clostridia infection.

(China.org.cn by Wu Nanlan May 19, 2008)

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