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Cholera is spreading on Hainan Island

BEIJING -- An outbreak of cholera in China’s southern resort island of Hainan has spread to the province’s capital Haikou, forcing the quarantine of a local university.

Seven students at Hainan University in Haikou had been diagnosed with cholera, bringing total cases in the province to 51, financial magazine Caijing said on its website (www.caijing.com.cn), citing the provincial health bureau.

More than 70 other students were in hospital with stomach ailments and the university had barred “outside personnel” from entering and students from leaving, the report said.

The school had also closed canteens and examined food workers, Caijing said.

Cholera is transmitted by contaminated water or food. At its most acute, it causes diarrhoea that can lead to death by severe dehydration and kidney failure.

Calls to the provincial health bureau went unanswered. An employee reached at the university by telephone said the number of students affected had been reported to the health bureau, but declined to comment further.

State media citing health authorities reported 30 cases on Friday, and nearly 300 suspected cases, but said the outbreak was confined to one municipal region. No deaths have been reported.

Authorities had traced the outbreak to a village dinner party and blamed heavy rains and floods in October for creating ripe conditions for cholera.

The provincial health bureau ordered officials to step up checks for intestinal diseases in a notice posted on its Web site on Monday (www.wst.hainan.gov.cn).

“Overcome carelessness and blind optimism, improve vigilance and make good preparations ahead of time,” the notice said.

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