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article imageBlood-sucking insects kill 31 in China

By Lynn Herrmann     Sep 11, 2010 in Health
At least 31 people have died in two Chinese provinces after falling ill from blood-sucking insect bites; meanwhile, health experts are still unable to identify the type of pathogen causing the deaths.
Chinese health officials report 18 people in China’s central Henan Province have died and another 13 are reported dead in Shandong Province, all from being bitten by ticks.
Li Dexin, a virus chief with China’s Center for Disease Control and Prevention told a press conference much about the disease remains unknown, including the exact pathogen causing the deaths and illnesses.
Dexin added that ticks can carry as many as 83 viruses, 17 types of borrella recurrentis, 32 protozoa and 14 kinds of bacteria.
The Shandong victims are among 82 cases reported as human granulocytic anaplasmosis (HGA) in the province since the provincial CDC began monitoring the disease in May 2008. According to Shanghai Daily, many of the victims were bitten by hard ticks.
In the coastal city of Penglai City alone, 26 HGA cases have been reported, including six deaths.
In the central province of Henan, 557 reported cases of illness, since May 2007, are suspected to be HGA, including the 18 deaths. Most of the cases were reported in Xinyang’s Guangshan and Shangcheng counties and Pingqiao and Shihe districts.
Symptoms of the disease include nausea, fever, headaches and chills, but is curable if treated quickly.
The Shanghai Daily also reports misdiagnosis of the disease initially led to improper treatements. “The disease was, in many cases, misdiagnosed as cold, so many patients were not treated properly at first,” said Cui Ning, a physician speaking to Xinhua news agency.
Infections resulting from the tick bites reduce white blood cells and platelet counts which in turn can lead to organ failure and death.
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