18 dead due to tick bites in China

The 18 victims in Xinyang City in China's Henan Province were among 557 reported cases of suspected human granulocytic anaplasmosis (HGA) since May 2007.

Most of the cases were found in Xinyang's Shangcheng and Guangshan counties and Shihe and Pingqiao districts, the provincial Public Health Department said in a statement.
The disease is often reported from May to Aug and most of the infected people are between ages 40 to 70, officials said.

In order to probe the cause of the disease, the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has ordered Henan CDC to start monitoring the disease on May 31, Xu Bianli, deputy head of Henan provincial CDC said.
Henan CDC has sent experts to Xinyang to help local doctors diagnose the disease and contain its spread from April to June.

Doctors at local medical clinics lacked knowledge of the disease as it was only identified in 2007, Xu told the official Xinhua news agency.
Monitoring of the disease is still underway in Xinyang.
HGA reduces white blood cell and platelet counts in the blood, leading to organ failure and death. People in close contact with the patient can also be infected if no precautions are taken. The disease is curable if treated soon enough.

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