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Cholera in China resort island

3rd November 2008

Authorities in the southern Chinese province of Hainan have reported a total of 51 confirmed cases of cholera in a recent outbreak on the tropical holiday island.

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Provincial health department director Bai Zhiqin said the cholera outbreak was under control, with 29 of the 51 people now cured and discharged from hospital, the official Xinhua news agency said.

There were no new reports of cholera cases in Danzhou, where the outbreak started, over the past two days. Doctors had also confirmed the pathogen of the outbreak, Bai added.

The department has launched an inspection of the province's catering businesses and intensified supervision of restaurants in cholera-affected areas.

Experts from the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention had arrived in Hainan to guide disease control, and provincial vice-governor Li Fanglue was also overseeing operations.

The cases have so far clustered around Hainan University, in the provincial capital, Haikou, the agency reported.

Several of the recently confirmed cases were students at the university, with another student in quarantine at the Haikou Municipal People's Hospital.

Students began complaining of diarrhoea last week, and more than 70 students had reported stomach problems but without being confirmed cholera cases, it said.

The campus has now been sealed off, with only authorised personnel and vehicles allowed access. All students are banned from leaving the campus, with all but two dining halls closed. Disinfection was being carried out in dormitory buildings and dining halls, Xinhua added.

The agency said health officials were handing out prophylactic medicines to staff and students alike.

Meanwhile, in Danzhou city, also in Hainan, a further 30 cases of cholera were confirmed, but no deaths have been reported in the two cities so far.

The first case has been traced to a dining party held in mid-October in Danzhou. The investigation showed that the initial case was confirmed on 20 October.

The outbreak is being linked with floods in early October. The ensuing warm weather would have provided ideal conditions for illnesses such as cholera, typhoid fever and diarrhoea to take hold in the community, Xinhua said.

Cholera is caused by intestinal bacteria that causes serious diarrhoea and vomiting, leading to dehydration. It has a short incubation period and can prove fatal, but can be cured if diagnosed promptly.

Hainan island is less industrialised than most of mainland China. It is home to a large People's Liberation Army naval base in the north of the island, and its southern beaches make it a popular tourist destination served by two airports.

 

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