More than 100 kindergartens have been shut down in a northern Chinese city in a bid to stop the spread of hand-foot-mouth disease among children, state media reported on Thursday.
Health workers in the Inner Mongolian capital of Hohhot have seen a rapid rise in the number of cases among children since June 1, said Jin Manyi, the city's deputy health director, according to the official Xinhua News Agency.
About 50 per cent of the 2,219 cases in Hohhot this year were reported this month, Jin said. All the schools closed failed to meet hygiene standards and were unlicensed to operate, he said. "We don't rule out a possibility of an outbreak of the disease in the near future," he was quoted as saying.
The disease, which mainly affects young children, killed a 4-year-old boy in April.
Hand-foot-mouth disease is characterized by fever, mouth sores and a rash with blisters. It is spread by direct contact with nose and throat discharges, saliva, fluid from blisters, or the stool of infected people. It is not related to hoof-and-mouth disease, which infects cattle, sheep and pigs.
Central Henan province has been hit hard by the disease, which killed at least 34 children this year as of May 5, Xinhua said. In eastern Shandong province, 31 had died as of May 11. Last year, the disease sickened 27,000 people and killed dozens nationwide.