Forty children in China died from the highly contagious hand, foot and mouth disease in March, almost doubling the death toll in the previous two months, state media reported.
The disease, which is especially harmful to young children, also infected over 77,750 people last month, prompting calls to boost efforts to control the spread of the illness in China, the official Xinhua news agency said.
Advertisement"Spring and summer are a peak period for infectious diseases," Vice Premier Li Keqiang was quoted as saying.
"Preventing and controlling various infectious diseases such as the hand, foot and mouth disease is a key task."
In January and February this year, 17 people died of the disease and a further 61,429 were infected, according to official figures. By way of comparison, 353 were killed last year by the illness.
An outbreak of the disease has been reported in provinces and regions in south, central, north and eastern China, the report said late Friday.
The illness, which is common in China, causes fever, blister-like eruptions in the mouth and skin rashes. It can be fatal in children because their immune systems are immature.
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