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Doctors told to stop HFMD vaccine rumors
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A nurse tends a child that has recovered from hand, foot and mouth disease caused by enterovirus 71 in a children's hospital in Hefei, capital of Anhui Province, yesterday.

The Disease Control and Prevention Center in Anhui Province has issued an emergency notice, requiring an immediate stop to doctors recommending a vaccine for hand, foot and mouth disease.

The center also urged all disease control departments in the eastern province to properly guide residents in HFMD prevention. Anhui has reported 9,304 HFMD cases including 24 deaths.

After the epidemic of HFMD in the worst-hit Fuyang City was revealed, rumors spread throughout Anhui that an immune serum or pneumonia vaccine could prevent HFMD.

Medical experts said the HFMD epidemic in Anhui was mostly caused by enterovirus 71, or EV71, for which there is no vaccine.

The Anhui disease control center has asked medical facilities to educate people in accordance with Ministry of Health guidelines and immediately stop recommending an immune serum to prevent residents from being cheated by swindlers. Experts said HFMD is a preventable and controllable disease and there is no need for panic.

The outbreak in Fuyang, where 22 deaths from the illness was recorded, is under control, the ministry said yesterday. No fatalities were reported from May 2 to Saturday, a ministry official said.

Zhong Nanshan, a well-known Chinese respiratory diseases expert, said at the weekend that HFMD was a common infectious disease and there had been no abnormal increase in the incidence of the disease or its mortality rate this year in China compared to previous years.

Since the ministry listed HFMD as a notifiable disease on May 2, more cases were reported to health authorities. More people have also gone to hospital for checkups after media coverage of HFMD intensified, so statistics from hospitals also increased. The two factors could have misleadingly suggested an increase of HFMD in China, he explained.

China has reported more than 27,600 HFMD cases this year, including 34 fatalities.

(Shanghai Daily May 12, 2008)

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