Toll in hand, foot and mouth outbreak in Chinese city rises to 21

Beijing - Hand, Foot and Mouth DiseaseThe death of another child brought the death toll from an outbreak of hand, foot and mouth disease in an eastern Chinese city to 21 as nearly 3,000 children have been infected, the official news agency Xinhua reported Friday.

Gao Kaiyan, director of the Anhui Provincial Health Department, told Xinhua that 2,946 children had been sickened as of Friday morning in Fuyang in Anhui province.

The children, most of whom are under 2, have been diagnosed with enterovirus 71, a severe strain of the highly infectious disease, since the outbreak began in March. The public was informed of the outbreak about a month later.

The symptoms of hand, foot and mouth disease are usually mild and include ulcers and blisters in the mouth, rashes on the hands and feet, and fever, but a small minority of cases become life-threatening, mainly because of neurological complications - such as encephalitis, meningitis and paralysis - as well as lung haemorrhages.

The virus - which is transmitted through saliva, blister fluid and faeces - is common among babies and children, but it is rare among adults, who usually have immune systems that are developed and strong enough to fight off the virus. (dpa)