BEIJING, March 28 (Reuters) - Five infants died of hand, foot and mouth disease in the past week in a city in eastern China, where more than 1,700 cases have been reported since the start of the year, the official Xinhua news agency said.
The five all died in Heze City in eastern Shandong province, where 440 cases were reported on Friday alone, Xinhua cited the local health bureau as saying.
Hand, foot and mouth disease is relatively common among children and rarely fatal.
But more than 40 Chinese children died in the spring of 2008 and thousands were infected when the illness was linked with enterovirus 71, which can cause a severe form of the disease characterised by high fever, paralysis and meningitis. (Reporting by Jason Subler; Editing by Jon Boyle)