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China Launches Olympic Effort to Fight Disease May 9, 2008
Photo of Chinese doctors examining a child for hand, foot and mouth disease.
A doctor examines a child for hand-foot-mouth disease in a village near Hefei, capital of east China's Anhui province.
Chinese officials say they are launching a massive public hygiene program to battle a recent viral outbreak that has killed 30 children, as well as to curb the spread of any other diseases prior to this summerís Beijing Olympic Games.

The Center for Health Protection said it is possible that infections of hand, foot and mouth disease, which have spread rapidly across China in recent weeks, could reach historic highs this summer.

Hand, foot and mouth is a common illness among young children in China, but cases have expanded at such an alarming rate this spring that the government has issued a national alert aimed at controlling its spread.

The disease is caused by a virus, known as Enterovirus 71 (EV71), and often produces only mild symptoms in children.

This yearís acute outbreak has killed well over two dozen youths as it expanded from northeastern China to around Hong Kong and even into neighboring areas of Vietnam.

The mutation of EV71 responsible for this yearís outbreak appears to be unusually virulent, health experts say.

Hong Kong TV Public Service Ad (Real Player) about hand, foot and mouth disease.

Photo: Center for Health Protection (Hong Kong)
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