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Mite-borne infectious disease confirmed in Anhui
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Nearly 60 people in east China's Anhui Province have been confirmed as having tropical typhus, an infectious disease caused by mite larva bites, health authorities said on Friday.

A statement on the provincial health department website on Friday said 58 cases had been confirmed since Oct. 1, including 47 in Fuyang City, eight in Bengbu and three in Bozhou.

"All the patients received timely treatment and no deaths were reported. Some of them have recovered and been discharged from hospital," it said.

Hospitals had been put on alert for more potential cases.

The health department in Fuyang City received reports on Saturday saying the city's two main hospitals had received more than 200 patients with persistent high fevers and headaches since Oct. 1.

The provincial health department sent an expert panel to Fuyang on Monday. While the majority of cases were diagnosed as pneumonia or measles, 16 were confirmed on Wednesday after blood tests as tropical typhus, or tsutsugamushi disease.

"It's a mite-borne infectious disease caused by a microorganism known as Rickettsia tsutsugamushi," said Wu Jiabing, a disease prevention expert with the provincial health department and head of the expert panel.

More cases were confirmed on Thursday.

One of the confirmed patients, 59-year-old Zhang Yucai, said he had suffered high fever, headache and occasional tics for more than a week before he went to the Fuyang People's Hospital on Monday.

"The medicine I took at home didn't work and even the doctors couldn't tell what the problem was," he said. "Several other villagers had similar symptoms."

He was transferred to the No. 2 People's Hospital in Fuyang on the same day and remains under observation with dozens of others.

"It takes seven to 10 days for the patients to fully recover," said Zhang Yazhou, deputy chief of the health department in Fuyang. He said it was the first ever tropical typhus outbreak in Fuyang.

The disease, which also features rashes and swollen glands, is reported occasionally in the coastal regions of eastern and southern China. It also occurs in Japan, India and Australia.

(Xinhua News Agency October 31, 2008)

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