Chinese doctors have been asked to test all survivors of last week's earthquake for a potentially deadly bacterial infection after they had to perform 30 amputations, state media said Wednesday.
Central authorities have told local medical workers to test patients immediately for gas gangrene and, if they test positive, to medicate them and isolate them to prevent infections from spreading, the China Daily said.
The condition consists of a gas infection entering a body part suffering gangrene, a decay of body tissues caused by severe injury. Gas gangrene can cause death within hours.
Doctors as of Sunday found 58 cases of gas gangrene and will need to amputate in 30 cases, the newspaper said, quoting health officials.
The health ministry is sending some 3,500 epidemic specialists into the earthquake zones and distributing 5.3 million leaflets on hygiene tips.
Authorities have said that preventing disease outbreaks among the five million homeless is a chief concern as hope fades for finding survivors from last week's 8.0 Richter-scale earthquake.
More than 40,000 people are confirmed dead in the earthquake with tens of thousands of others missing, according to the government.