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  E. China province confirms 24 deaths from viral hemorrhagic fever  

  

 

Rats are blamed for spreading the virus that caused 24 confirmed deaths this year in Shandong province from viral hemorrhagic fever (VHF), according to figures released by the provincial health bureau Saturday.

  JINAN, Dec. 31 (Xinhua) -- Rats are blamed for spreading the virus that caused 24 confirmed deaths this year in Shandong province from viral hemorrhagic fever (VHF), according to figures released by the provincial health bureau Saturday.

  The bureau said most of the cases were recorded after October, and the number of deaths are 11 more than last year.

  The bureau recorded a total 938 VHF infection cases this year, which is 1.88 percent lower than that of 2010. Among the 24 death cases, 13 were reported in Qingdao, a port city in Shandong.

  Fan Tianli, a doctor at the Qingdao Hospital of Infectious Diseases, said the VHF patients were all from rural areas. They had either contact with infected rats, eaten food contaminated by rats, or been stung by mites that had also bitten rats, before showing symptoms of fever and bleeding disorders.

  The provincial health bureau has organized vaccine inoculations in the epidemic-affected areas and mobilized campaigns to kill rats.

  The bureau's figures showed that 1.5 million people in Shandong have received VHF vaccine inoculations since 2008, which has been attributed to effectively curbing the mass spread of the disease.

  Outbreaks of VHF had been reported in the 1980s and 1990s in the province, when more than 10,000 people were infected on average each year, but no exact number of deaths was recorded.

  Disease control experts say the epidemic is likely to break out in winter and spring when rats lack food in the wild and turn to rural homes and garbage heaps.

 

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