- China believes the mystery illness that has killed 19
farmers in western China is streptococcus suis, a disease common in pigs.
- China's health ministry said people had contracted the
disease by slaughtering and processing infected pigs.
- Sixty-seven confirmed cases and 13 suspected cases of
the disease had been reported as of noon on Sunday, it said.
- The WHO noted the "disconcertingly high mortality
rate" and said it was keeping a close watch on the situation.
- "According to research and lab test results, experts
believe the disease is caused by streptococcus suis," the health ministry
said in a statement.
- The symptoms include high fever, nausea and haemorrhaging.
- The latest infections were spread throughout 75 villages
and 40 towns near the cities of Ziyang and Neijiang, the health ministry
- The number of people infected with the illness has risen
steadily as health officials searched through remote villages in the province
for people with symptoms.
- WHO alarm
- "We are looking at not just a bacteria being active
in one herd of pigs, but over a fairly wide area," said Bob Dietz,
a spokesman for the World Health Organization's regional office in Manila.
- "We see this as a serious situation which bears
close monitoring," Mr Dietz said.
- In Hong Kong, health officials warned hospitals to look
out for similar symptoms and banned the import of pork from Sichuan.
- Correspondents say the territory has been wary of diseases
spreading from mainland China since the outbreak of the acute respiratory
disease Sars, which killed nearly 300 people there in 2003.
- Â© BBC MMV