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Toddler virus flares up again in China

A child, who is infected with hand, foot and mouth disease, receives medical treatment at a hospital in Fuyang, Anhui province, May 9, 2008. REUTERS/Stringer

BEIJING (Reuters) - Three children have died in eastern China from hand, foot and mouth disease in the country’s second outbreak of the potent toddler virus this year, state media reported on Monday.

Health officials warned that the disease was epidemic in some parts of the coastal Fujian province, with 113 cases reported since the start of October, the official Xinhua news agency said.

The three victims were all less than one year old and from the same place, Jian’ou City, it added.

A flare-up of the virus in southern China killed at least 42 people in April and May, and 27,500 further cases, largely affecting toddlers, were reported.

Hand, foot and mouth disease is a common childhood illness, but the outbreaks in China have been linked with enterovirus 71 (EV71), which can cause a severe form of the disease characterised by high fever, paralysis and meningitis.

There is no vaccine for the disease and normally, patients recover within a week to 10 days. Enteroviruses spread mostly through contact with infected blisters or faeces

Reporting by Simon Rabinovitch; Editing by Valerie Lee