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Death toll from unknown illness rises to 17 in Sichuan
2005-07-25 04:50:23 Xinhua English

CHENGDU, July 25 (Xinhuanet) -- An unidentified disease have claimed lives of 17 local farmers and stricken 41 others as of Saturday noon in southwest China's Sichuan Province, the provincial health department said Sunday.

  Local hospitals have received 58 patients from 49 villages of 23 different townships in the city of Ziyang and its neighboring city of Neijiang over the past four weeks.

All the patients showed similar symptoms like high fever, fatigue, nausea and vomiting and became comatose later with bruises under the skin.

Of all the hospitalized, two have recovered and 12 others are in critical condition and 27 are in stable condition.

Preliminary probe found out that the affected farmers have butchered sick pigs or sheep before coming down with the odd disease.

Medical experts said the mysterious disease doesn't seem to be spreading further among humans and the detected cases show no obvious signs of epidemic.

Local governments and health and agriculture departments have set up special investigation and rescue teams and are trying to determine the exact cause of the disease.

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