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'Deadly virus in China infects more children'

world Updated: May 02, 2008 08:37 IST

AFP
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A deadly intestinal virus that has killed 20 children in eastern China has spread and so far infected nearly 2,500 kids in all, state press said on Friday, citing health authorities.

Of those, more than 700 remain hospitalised due to the disease, 36 of them in a serious condition, Xinhua news agency quoted health authorities in Anhui province as saying.

The number of children to have been infected with the enterovirus 71, known as EV71, has risen to 2,477, up from the figure of 1,884 reported earlier in the week, the officials said.

The disease begins with fever, blisters, mouth ulcers and rashes, and has taken the lives of 20 children in Anhui since early March amid accusations by the Chinese media of a government-led cover up of the epidemic.

News of the epidemic only began appearing on Monday.

All the children were below the age of six, Xinhua said

The World Health Organisation earlier this week expressed concern over the epidemic, which in serious cases can lead to brain, heart and lung damage.

It said in a statement Wednesday that while enteroviruses are found across the world, "the situation (in Anhui) is still of concern especially because of the current high reported case fatality rate compared to previous years."

China's health ministry has tried to calm fears, saying early discovery of the disease and better treatment has lowered the mortality rate.

There have been no new deaths attributed to the outbreak in the past four days.