Paralysing virus strikes China ahead of Olympics

As if China doesn't have enough to deal with ahead of the Olympics. Added to the problems of Beijing's polluted air, protests in support of Tibet, and the daft mission to take the Olympic torch up mount Everest being hampered by the weather, CNN is reporting an outbreak of the deadly enterovirus 71 in the city of Fuyang, south of the capital.

As of Friday, 22 had been killed and almost 1,000 hospitalized by the virus, which in mild cases causes flu-like symptoms but in the worst cases leads to brain swelling, paralysis and death. The latest from Associated Press puts the total number stricken at almost 12,000 nationwide. The World Health Organization says that numbers could climb still higher during the warm months of June and July.

A previous outbreak in Taiwan in 1998 claimed 78 lives, according to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

But WHO's Chinese representative Hans Troedsson says that the disease is not a threat to Olympic competitors, because it mainly affects children. Which won't come as much of a comfort to the parents of those affected.

Copyright © 2008 Great Beyond

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Great Beyond – blogs.nature.com/news/thegreatbeyond/2008/05/paralysing_virus_strikes_china.html