At least 18 children have been killed across China so far this year after being infected by deadly hand-foot-mouth disease, that killed more than 200 kids besides affecting 500,000 last year, an official said on Friday.
The ministry recorded 41,846 cases of hand-foot-mouth disease in 30 provinces and regions, except in Tibet, in the past three months, health ministry spokesman Deng Haihua said.
About 94 per cent of the patients were children under five years old, 75 per cent were affected by the virus EV71, and 94 suffered severe symptoms, Deng told press in Beijing. Compared with the figures last year, the outbreak of the disease seemed to come early.
The number of the hand-foot- mouth cases was still increasing, and would reach its peak from May to July, he was quoted as saying by the fficial Xinhua news agency. The disease reportedly infected more than 500,000 children in China last year and killed almost 200, China Daily reported on Wednesday.
The hand-foot-mouth disease has the highest incidence rate among children under three years old. The virus is usually transmitted through digestive and respiratory systems, or through intimate contact, and starts with a slight fever followed by blisters and ulcers in the mouth and rashes on the hands and feet.
Children who contracted EV71 often show serious symptoms. The virus could also lead to meningitis, encephalitis, pulmonary edema and paralysis.