Fifty people, mostly children, have succumbed to the deadly hand-foot-mouth disease so far this year in China.
More than one lakh cases have been reported till first week of the month of which 50 were fatal and 773 severe, state media said on Friday.
“Compared with the figures last year, the outbreak seemed to come early. The number of cases was still increasing, and would reach its peak from May to July,” official Xinhua News Agency quoted Health Ministry spokesman Deng Haihua as saying.
The ministry has recorded 54,713 cases, 31 fatal, of the hand-foot-mouth disease in March only, Haihua said.
Nearly 95 per cent of the total affected were kids under age five, he said adding the disease was one of the top three killers in the country.
Most of the cases (80 per cent) this year were reported from provinces of Henan, Shandong, Jiangsu, Guangxi, Anhui, Guangdong, Hebei, Hubei, Hunan and Zhejiang.
The disease, a common childhood illness that mainly affects children under the age of 10, spreads by direct contact with nose and throat discharges, saliva, fluid from blisters, or the stool of infected people. The symptoms include fever, sores in the mouth and a rash with blisters.
There is no vaccine or specific treatment, but most children affected by the disease recover quickly without problems. It becomes fatal if complications occur.