ZIYANG, Sichuan Province, July 25 (Xinhuanet) -- Preliminary investigation shows the unknown disease in southwest China's Sichuan Province was caused by a kind of a swine virus known as streptococosis II.
The province has reported 80 cases of the mysterious disease as of Monday morning, including 13 suspected cases, and 19 fatalities and 17 case of illness, said Wu Jianlin, an expert with the Sichuan Provincial Disease Control Center.
Four people have recovered and were discharged from hospital, while the others are still being treated at local hospitals, Wu said.
The patients came from 75 villages in 40 townships in cities and counties including Ziyang City, Jianyang City, Lezhi County and Zizhong County in Neijiang City.
All the patients had direct contact with ill or dead pigs before showing symptoms, said Chen Zhihai, director of the emergency team of clinical experts.
The patients first reported symptoms of fever, weakness and sickness, and then got symptoms of endemic gore and shock. Their number of the white blood cells has also been soaring along with the degeneration of the disease.
Judging from the symptoms and tests of the dead pigs, experts reached the preliminary conclusion that the disease was caused by swine streptococosis II.
With the enlarged searching, the number of the affected people has been increasing, but the cases were dispersed in different areas with no obvious signs of epidemic relationships. No evidence has been found that the disease can spread among human beings, Chen Zhihai said.
"Eleven of our family members have eaten the pork, but I'm the only one to catch the disease. I think I got infected when I helped slaughter the pig and did not notice my finger was injured," said Jiang Suhua, a patient from Bazi Village in Danshan Township in Ziyang.
"My father got ill suddenly and the fellow villagers worried they would get infected, but no new cases were reported in the following five days after my father was hospitalized. They now feel much safer," said Tang Wei, son of a 50-year-old patient, Tang Xingwen, a villager from Ma'an Village in Yanjiang Township in Ziyang.
Swine streptococosis was first spotted in the 1950s and has been reported in many countries including France, Denmark, the United States and Canada.
The government at all levels has been taking emergency measures to cope with the disease.