BEIJING–China reported a jump Monday in the number of children sickened with hand, foot and mouth disease, saying more than 11,900 cases have been reported.
At least 24 deaths in the central province of Anhui and Guangdong province in the south have been blamed on enterovirus 71, one of several viruses that cause the disease, the official Xinhua News Agency said. Two other children – one in Guangdong and another in the coastal province of Zhejiang – have also died of hand, foot and mouth disease but it wasn't immediately clear which strain of virus killed them, it said.
Xinhua said 10,212 children had been reported infected in the hardest-hit areas, including the provinces of Anhui, Guangdong, Zhejiang, and the capital Beijing. All were below the age of 6 and the majority were under the age of 2, it said. The total number of infections reported nationwide by Monday was 11,905, Xinhua said, with smaller outbreaks in Hebei, Jiangsu, Hunan, Hubei, Shaanxi, Jiangxi and Henan provinces and in the city of Chongqing.
Though nearly all the deaths have been blamed on enterovirus 71, also known as EV-71, it was not immediately clear how many of the overall infections were traced to the virus. Zhejiang's provincial health bureau said on its Web site that only nine of its 1,198 cases had tested positive for EV-71. Chongqing said none of its 42 infections have been confirmed to be cause by EV-71. Xinhua said the jump in cases was due in part to a new regulation from the Ministry of Health classifying hand, foot and mouth disease among those that have to be reported to the central government.
I have to admit that prior to these reports I really thought hand, foot and mouth disease only affected animals. When I think of all the time my children spent on the floor or in the dirt with the dog – it’s amazing all three lived to grow bigger than me. But I digress, and more importantly, just what is making these children so very, very ill?
When I stop to think about the implications of China’s one child rule I find myself horrified at the world of grief each of these sick children represent. If every there was a role and a need for WHO to act - now is the time and China the place.