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Infectious diseases claim 13,000 lives
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Nearly four in every 1,000 people were diagnosed with infectious diseases on the mainland last year, according to the annual epidemic report released by the Ministry of Health on Friday.

More than 4.7 million cases of infectious diseases were reported, up 2.95 percent on 2006, it said. The diseases led to the deaths of 13,037 people, 2,311 more than the previous year.

Rabies was the top killer among the 37 reported diseases, claiming 2,873 lives last year, the report said.

Cases of respiratory tract and blood-borne/sexually transmitted diseases rose by 3.55 and 6.96 percent, respectively, it said.

Scarlet fever and measles were the two respiratory tract infections to have registered the sharpest increase in the number of people infected.

The number of HIV/AIDS cases reported increased 45 percent year-on-year.

"But that doesn't mean the HIV/AIDS situation is getting worse," Gao Qi, a project manager with the China HIV/AIDS Information Network, said.

"The increase might be due to more screening tests."

The number of hepatitis C cases was up 30 percent, and syphilis cases up 24 percent on last year, the report said.

As for cholera, there were 164 cases last year, up 2.46 percent, but with no fatalities.

The report said four human cases of bird flu were reported last year resulting in two deaths. In 2006, there were eight fatalities from the 12 cases reported.

In general, no mass outbreaks of disease were detected last year, it said.

But there were sporadic cases, including a dengue fever outbreak in Guangdong and Fujian provinces between August and October, measles in Sichuan province and parts of the Xinjiang Uygur autonomous region, and a hepatitis A outbreak in parts of Guizhou and Gansu provinces.

(China Daily February 23, 2008)

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