Hand, Foot and Mouth Disease Kills 18 in China

March 30, 2009 Updated: March 30, 2009

BEIJING—According to China’s Ministry of Public Health  41,846 people have been infected and 18 have died of Hand, Foot and Mouth (HFMD) disease throughout China this year, except Tibet.

Deng Haihua, the spokesperson for the Ministry of Public Health, said that 93 percent of the patients are children under five years old and 75 percent of the cases are caused by the EV71 virus which can lead to serious problems such as paralysis and brain infections.

The outbreak of HFMD came earlier this year and also it was more widespread, especially in rural areas. The outbreak is expected to be intense from May through July.

HFMD strikes a high percentage of children and lasts a long time. Most patients live in rural areas where sanitation is poor.

Based on the official data, Shandong and Henan Provinces have more infected people than other areas.

However, some incidents reveal that many local authorities across the county are concealing the outbreak. Hospitals alter patients’ records and misdiagnose the disease to hide the number of outbreaks also.  

According to internal sources, there was a meeting about how to prevent and control HFMD in Shandong province. The Deputy Mayor of Heze City, Huang Xiuling, said the outbreak has been found in all 59 counties and their surrounding areas, and in kindergartens in the city.

“Be careful about the media,” Huang was reported to have said. The number of staff in patient wards and outpatient units as well as security guards have been increased to hide the information about the HFMD outbreak.

Read original article in Chinese.