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172 affected in Fujian cholera outbreak
By Li Dapeng (China Daily)
Updated: 2005-09-20 06:22

FUZHOU: A total of 172 cholera cases have been found since August in East China's Fujian Province, the highest number in recent years.

So far, there have been no deaths since the first case was found on August 12 in Fuzhou, capital of the province. The reported 172 cases include 137 in Fuzhou, and sporadic ones in a few other coastal areas, according to statistics from the Health Department of the Fujian provincial government.

So far, 83 patients have recovered and been released from hospital. All other patients are in a stable condition.

The incidence of the disease is higher than the same period in recent years, said health officials.

Most patients said that they had eaten seafood in some small roadside restaurants. An initial investigation by the province's health and epidemic prevention departments agreed that the outbreak was caused by seafood, especially shellfish.

The departments have been inspecting more than 100 kinds of seafood in the province in order to confirm the cause of the disease.

To stop the disease spreading further, quarantine and inspection stations have been requested to enhance sanitation supervision for seafood in the markets and shut down restaurants without business licences.

Meanwhile, the provincial health department also required relevant hospitals to strengthen the monitoring of diarrhoea cases and other suspected cases, and report disease updates to superior departments.

Cholera is an acute infectious disease of the small intestine, caused by the bacterium vibrio cholera and characterized by profuse watery diarrhoea, vomiting, muscle cramps, severe dehydration, and depletion of electrolytes. It can lead to rapid dehydration of the body and prove fatal unless treated quickly.

Shellfish eaten raw or undercooked is a potential source of cholera, according to Xu Longshan, an expert with Fujian Provincial Centre for Disease Control and Prevention.

The incidence of cholera and other intestinal diseases has been kept at a low level in the past three years. However, August has seen a big rise over the same period last year.

China will set up 34 sites nationwide to conduct routine cholera monitoring, according to a plan issued early this month by the Ministry of Health.

The aim of the plan is to enhance cholera monitoring, discover new cases in time, confirm the source of epidemic diseases and increase understanding of these diseases, the plan said. Monitoring sites will also be built in 17 regions including Hainan, Guangdong, Fujian, Shanghai, Beijing and Chongqing.

(China Daily 09/20/2005 page2)

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