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China Public Health Emergency Cases Up, Death Toll Down This Year

China's Health Ministry on Wednesday said 315 people died in public health emergencies nationwide from January to September.

According to the ministry, medical institutions throughout the country reported 126,545 patients from 1,789 outbreaks in the first nine months.

Among the outbreaks, eight serious events claimed 51 lives, 161 large events caused 189 deaths and 1,620 common events killed 75.

Reported outbreaks and the death toll were reduced respectively by 10.82 percent and nearly 2 percent compared with those of last year, according to the ministry.

The number of cases, however, increased by 62.73 percent year on year. A ministry's expert attributed the rise to the increase of infectious diseases in the country.

The top two infectious diseases, accounting for more than 80 percent of the total increased cases, were hand-foot-mouth disease and measles.

The reduced death toll was mainly related to less food poisoning events, despite the tainted milk scandal that had killed three babies and left 13,000 others hospitalized with kidney problems in China.

North China-based dairy giant Sanlu was the first of the companies exposed for producing toxic baby formula in the scandal. Many other milk products of various companies were later found tainted by melamine, an industrial chemical that could make milk appear richer in protein than it actually was.

(Xinhua News Agency October 16, 2008)

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