China says it controls viral outbreak in children

BEIJING (Reuters) - An outbreak of viral fever that sent hundreds of children to hospital in eastern China has been contained after one death, the Xinhua news agency reported.

More than 800 people, mostly children, went down with hand-foot-mouth disease in counties and towns around the city of Linyi, a Shandong provincial health official said.

Almost 400 were still suffering from the disease, and 223 remained in hospital, senior official Bao Wenhui told Xinhua.

A two-year-old girl -- diagnosed as a probable hand-food-mouth patient -- died in hospital on April 29 after developing a fever and vomiting, Xinhua said.

The disease, also known as coxsackie virus, is characterized by mouth sores and fever. Highly contagious among children, it is not normally fatal.

Chinese bloggers in Shandong said in early May that 26 children had died in the outbreak. Local media said authorities in Linyi had denied the accusation.

Xinhua said Shandong health officials had launched a campaign to remind parents to take preventive measures such as frequent hand washing, and had isolated the affected children.

Shandong Province recorded 2,477 cases of hand-food-mouth disease in 2005, including one death, and 3,030 cases in 2006, two of them fatal, Xinhua said.