Mystery, Deadly Pig-Born
Virus Spreads In China

From Patricia Doyle, PhD
Only 200 cases worldwide since 1968, and look at the stats in China this month. What is going on?
If the government knows that the following situation with people eating sick pork is going on, why don't they stop it? They admit that the family pig farms were why not close them down? A story coming out tomorrow in the south China Morning Post is going to describe cases of people digging up dead pigs and eating them. Bizarre...or insane!
BEIJING (AFP) - A mysterious pig-borne disease has spread to six more towns in southwest China and the number of people killed has risen to 31, the government said as it scrambled to reassure the public.
The health ministry said on its website that the total number of people affected increased to 152 by noon Thursday -- seven more deaths and 27 more cases than the day before. Twenty-seven are in critical condition.
Six more towns in Sichuan province reported cases Wednesday, in addition to the two Sichuan cities, Ziyang and Neijiang, where people first fell ill after slaughtering pigs foaming at the mouth last month, the ministry said.
The World Health Organization said it was baffled.
It said if the disease was indeed caused by the streptococcus suis bacteria, as preliminary Chinese results show, it would be the first time the bacteria had struck so many people at one time -- raising fears it had become more virulent.
The Chinese government was working to reassure the public that it has got a grip on the epidemic, stressing the spread can be stopped if people avoided slaughtering infected pigs.
"We have the technology and procedures to bring the disease under control," the China Daily quoted a ministry of agriculture official as saying.
Investigations show only those who came in contact with infected pigs or pork -- through slaughtering or processing -- and had open wounds fell ill, the Beijing Daily Messenger cited experts as saying.
Those who simply ate the cooked pork did not get sick.
The victims were mostly farmers who raised pigs in small, insanitary farms. Farmers told AFP they had a habit of eating sick pigs instead of burying them because they were poor.
Newspaper accounts said many people pitched in to shave the hair off the killed swine, wash the internal organs and chop up the meat to distribute.
One woman who fell ill was quoted by the Beijing Daily Messenger as saying she did not think anything of the small wound on her hand when she helped a relative kill a pig last week.
"After killing the pig, our entire family boiled three bowls of pork to eat. After eating just a few chopsticks of the meat, I felt my heart pound, dizzy and nauseous," Jiang Suhua said.
"Later my legs were so weak I couldn't stand up. My arms, legs also had large blotches of blood under the skin."
Another farmer said a relative gave him a slice of freshly cut pork and he became dizzy and weak just from taking the pork home.
Other symptoms include high fever, vomiting and haemorrhaging, with many patients going into severe shock. Some of the victims died within 10 hours of showing symptoms, reports said.
The disease is rare, with the first recorded case in Denmark in 1968. More than 200 cases of human infection have been reported globally since then, not counting the latest outbreak.
WHO spokesman Bob Dietz said it was too soon to say the bacteria was the cause or the only cause of the outbreak, adding that more laboratory tests were needed to see if other factors may be at work.
"We can't discount the possibility there could be other bacteria, virus or something else active in here," Dietz said.
The bacteria is endemic in Asia, North America and Europe, he said.
If it the cause of the outbreak, Chinese farmers' close proximity to their pigs might be a reason for the large number of cases.
"What we're accustomed to seeing is one or two cases. ... here, where pigs and humans are so intertwined in the countryside, it might explain why so many people are becoming sick," Dietz said.
An outbreak occurred in 1998 in east China's Jiangsu province and a few people died, the China Daily quoted researchers as saying, but they did not reveal a death toll.
Patricia A. Doyle, PhD
Please visit my "Emerging Diseases" message board at:
Zhan le Devlesa tai sastimasa
Go with God and in Good Health



This Site Served by TheHostPros