HEFEI, April 27 (Xinhua) -- A total of 19 children have died and more than 700 others fallen ill in an outbreak of a lethal intestinal virus in Fuyang City, east China's Anhui Province, since March.
"Experts from the Ministry of Health, Anhui Province and Fuyang City confirmed the virus is entervirus 71 or EV 71 based on epidemiological surveys, clinical diagnosis and lab work," said the city's health department.
Hospitals in Fuyang, in northwest Anhui, started to take in children with fever, along with blisters, ulcers in the mouth, or rashes on the hands and feet, in early March. Some of the victims were diagnosed with brain, heart and lung damage.
All of the victims were aged below six, of whom, the majority being children under the age of two.
By Saturday, there were 789 cases of infections, of which, 19 were fatal. A total of 204 children remain in hospital for further medical observation, of whom, four are said to be in critical conditions.
The Ministry of Health sent a team in mid-April, and they have been working with health workers to find the cause of the infection.
Chen Zhu, Minister of Health, on Saturday visited Fuyang to oversee work.
Fuyang has set up a leading group for control and prevention of the lethal virus, backed with 3 million yuan (about 428,571 U.S. dollars) from Anhui Province and Fuyang City.
Other efforts to stop the infection spreading include improved disease monitoring, more epidemiological surveys and lab tests.
Schools, kindergartens and villages are being inspected for hygiene.
Enterovirus 71 can cause hand, foot and mouth disease which usually starts with a slight fever followed by blisters of ulcers in the mouth and on the hands and feet.
It may cause high fever, meningitis, encephalitis, pulmonary edema and paralysis in a small number of children. Paralysis is more common in children under 2 years of age and meningitis is more common in children from 2-5 years of age, said Yang Weizhong, deputy chief of Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention.
Infections could lead to high mortalities in serious cases and neither vaccine nor therapeutic treatment is available.