Alarming Outbreak of Mutated Hand, Foot, and Mouth Disease in Guangxi

May 6, 2010 Updated: October 1, 2015

A young child's hands show a rash typical of Hand, Foot, and Mouth Disease. (AFP/Getty Images)
A young child's hands show a rash typical of Hand, Foot, and Mouth Disease. (AFP/Getty Images)
An especially virulent form of Hand, Foot, and Mouth disease (HFMD), is spreading quickly in Quanzhou County of Guangxi Autonomous Region, a local official told Chinese Youth Daily. According to official data as of April 15, 13 small children have died of this disease, and 643 children have been affected by it. Quanzhou County is the hardest-hit area in the region.

Outbreak Fast, Death-Rate High

“A child can look perfectly healthy one minute and totally different the next, and will begin to deteriorate faster than a 100-meter race. This differs from our past experience with HFMD greatly,” a medical worker from the Quanzhou County People’s Hospital told the Beijing News. It was discovered that the virus mostly attacks small children under 3 years, and kills them in half an hour to 7 hours.

According to China Youth Daily, in Dec. 2009, 21-month-old Wang Fanfan from Kumatian Village of Jiaojiang Township in Quanzhou County suddenly developed a rash on his body, followed by high fever a month later and diarrhea that lasted a whole day. But the family did not take it too seriously. On Jan. 25, the toddler’s face suddenly turned blue and a rash appeared behind his knees as well as on his tongue. The family immediately sent him to the Quanzhou County Maternal and Child Care Service Center, but he died despite three hours of emergency treatment.

The Beijing News reported several death cases of small children due to the mutated virus.

On March 10, a toddler boy, Li Jiacheng from Daxijiang Township, died in the Quanzhou County People’s Hospital with blood and some foam coming out of his mouth. The outbreak of his symptoms had only begun three days before. “Constant fever quickly resulted in failure of his vital organs, such as his heart and lungs,” recalled a doctor who had participated in the emergency treatment. Li Jiacheng’s death made every doctor in the hospital wonder what virus could have claimed his life so quickly.

On March 24, Liu Shigui’s 7-month-old son died in the County Hospital. His diagnosis was suspected HFMD. On April 6, toddler boy Tan Wenchang from Longyan Village of Quanzhou County died of the same disease. It was not until the Guangxi Autonomous Region Disease Control Center had sent an inspection report that people began to realize the killer virus was EV71, a mutated form of the HFMD virus.

On April 10, two-year-old male toddler Wang Minyuan died in the Quanzhou County People’s Hospital. Prior to his death, he had a fever, blood and foam coming from his mouth, and fading breath.

Wang Qun, head of the out-patient department in the Affiliated Hospital of Guilin Medical School, said, “EV71 is an enterovirus. It attacks vital organs such as the heart and lungs as soon as it enters the human body. The outbreak is fast, and the death rate for critically ill patients can be as high as 80 percent,” according to a Beijing News report.

Difficult to Prevent and Control

In the past, patients of HFMD developed noticeable rashes on the hands, feet and mouth areas. The symptoms were mild and the death rate was low. Patients of EV71 virus hardly develop any rashes on the body, the outbreak is acute, and the death rate is high. The head of Quanzhou County Disease Control Center, Fang Tianxi, told The Beijing News, “The HFMD has many mutants. The EV71 virus has never been seen in Quanzhou Country before. It has caught the disease control departments off guard.”

A management person from the Quanzhou County Maternal and Child Care Service Center told The Epoch Times that it is now the peak season for a HFMD break out, and things are much worse this year than in previous years. He said the insidious virus is easily passed among children without being noticed. Mild symptoms of this disease look a lot like those of a simple cold. However, if a child develops a fever of 38.5 degrees Celsius (101.3 F) and above, the child should be taken to see a doctor. At present, there is only one hospital dedicated to treating HFMD in Quanzhou County.

Read the original Chinese article.