Hand, foot and mouth toll rises to 34 in China

Beijing  - At least 34 children have died in an outbreak of hand, foot and mouth disease in China as the total number of infections has risen to 25,000, the official news agency Xinhua reported Friday.

The toll rose with two more deaths in the eastern province of Anhui in the north-western city of Bozhou and its capital, Hefei, but the worst-hit city, Fuyang, was seeing its wave of infections recede as more hand, foot and mouth patients were being released from hospital as were being admitted, the Health Ministry told Xinhua.

The number of critical cases was also falling, the ministry said, and no new deaths had been reported in about a week in Fuyung, where 22 children have died.

Hand, foot and mouth disease is a common childhood disease that causes symptoms including ulcers and blisters in the mouth, rashes on the hands and feet and fever. Only a small number of cases become life- threatening because of complications such as lung haemorrhages and meningitis.

It is spread mainly by enterovirus 71, which is from the same family as the polio virus, but it can also be transmitted by several other viruses.

The sharp increase recorded in hand, foot and mouth cases in China was attributed to recent requirements that infections must be reported to health officials. (dpa)