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Hand-foot-mouth Disease Declining in Anhui Province

The outbreak of hand-foot-mouth disease (HFMD) has ebbed in east China's Anhui Province, which was worst-hit by the viral epidemic since April, the provincial department of health said on Friday.

The number of cases reported everyday dropped from a peak of 1,160 on May 1 to 153 on May 21, and no further deaths had occurred over the past 12 days, the department said in a circular.

It said 734 people were still hospitalized in Anhui, including 10 in serious or critical condition.

Doctors successfully treated 10,696 HFMD patients in Anhui, although 26 died in the outbreak.

Kindergartens in Fuyang City, the worst-hit city, will resume classes on Children's Day -- June 1 -- as the authorities considered the situation was under control.

According to the Ministry of Health, HFMD can be caused by a host of intestinal viruses, but EV71 and the Coxsackievirus (Cox A16) were the most common.

HFMD usually starts with a slight fever followed by blisters and ulcers in the mouth and rashes on the hands and feet. Those with EV71 often show serious symptoms. It can also lead to meningitis, encephalitis, pulmonary edema and paralysis in some children. There is no vaccine.

(Xinhua News Agency May 23, 2008)

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