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Hand-foot-mouth disease claims 50 lives this year
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China has reported 115,000 cases of hand-foot-mouth disease so far this year as of Tuesday, of which 50 were fatal and 773 were severe, the Ministry of Health said Friday.

The Ministry recorded 54,713 cases of hand-foot-mouth disease in March, of which 31 were fatal, said Deng Haihua, director of the ministry's Information Office at a regular press conference here.

Nearly 95 percent of the patients were children under age five, and baby patients under three accounted for nearly 78 percent of the total, he said.

He said the disease was mainly in rural areas and nearly 80 percent of the total was in 10 provinces and autonomous regions including Henan, Shandong, Jiangsu, Guangxi, Anhui, Guangdong, Hebei, Hubei, Hunan and Zhejiang.

"Compared with the figures last year, the outbreak seemed to come early. The number of cases was still increasing, and would reach its peak from May to July," he said.

Hand-foot-mouth disease is a common childhood illness that mainly affects children under the age of 10. Symptoms include fever, sores in the mouth and a rash with blisters. It can sometimes be fatal if complications occur.

A total of 1,144 people died from infectious diseases in the Chinese mainland in March, according to the ministry.

Of the 129,191 cases of Class C infectious diseases, 35 were fatal. Hand-foot-mouth disease, other infectious diarrhea and mumps were the top three killers, accounting for 86 percent of the reported cases, the ministry said.

It said there were 359,516 cases of Class B infectious diseases, with 1,109 deaths. Viral hepatitis, tuberculosis, syphilis, diarrhea and gonorrhea were the top five killers, accounting for almost 95 percent of the reported cases, according to the ministry.

No case of SARS, polio, bird-flu or diphtheria was reported.

Plague and cholera are categorized as Class A infectious diseases, the most serious category, under China's Law on the Prevention and Treatment of Infectious Diseases.

Class B diseases include 25 ailments such as viral hepatitis and Class C includes 10 diseases, such as influenza.

(Xinhua News Agency April 11, 2009)

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