April 8, 2009

China facing outbreak of hand-foot-mouth

An outbreak of hand-foot-and-mouth disease in China has killed 18 children in less than a week and left 195 others in serious condition, health authorities say.

The dead are among 19,922 cases of the childhood disease recorded in Henan province, China's Xinhua news agency reported Wednesday.

Zhou Yong, a spokesman for the Henan Provincial Health Administration, says 4,244 children have been discharged from local hospitals after being treated for the illness.

Officials said they fear more cases may develop as temperatures in the province rise, Xinhua said.

Hand-foot-and-mouth disease commonly affects children under the age of 10 causing fever, sores in the mouth and a rash with blisters. The illness can be fatal if complications occur.