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Children's Health
Children's health is a major concern for all parents, and this intensifies for Expats with children living in China. It is the 'unknown' that causes undue stress.

Leaving aside world-wide diseases, each country or area also has its more local diseases or versions of them. Natives can grow up with natural immunity to them, but they can be a problem for foreigners with no natural antibodies in their systems.

In this page we will take a brief look at what you should be concerned about:

No doubt your child will have followed a regular timetable of injections in your home country before coming to live in China. We advise you to continue this in China, and also have any extra jabs not given in your home country. These could be locally important.

Those of you who have children born in China should automatically come under the Chinese Healthcare provision - which provides something like 24 jabs over the first 5-years of life. Most of these are free for Chinese people, although a few are paid for as extra's. Foreigners will have to pay for them all, but the cost is generally very minimal.

We would warn against giving your child the Cholera vaccination before coming to China, as apart from earthquake zones, this disease is not a problem - it is caused by imbibing contaminated water. The injection often causes flu-like symptoms and nausea/distress for many months afterwards. This in turn can lower a persons resistance to other new diseases that would otherwise be shrugged off quite easily.

If you do not come from the UK, then you should know what your blood type is, including the rhesus + or - factor. UK citizens do not have access to this information as their health service guards it jealously as being 'Top Secret'! To find out you have to pay for a special test, or go and give blood.

Blood type is important in Asia, and especially China, where more than 99% of the population are rhesus + positive. Therefore if you have rhesus - negative blood and require a serious operation or transfusion - you could have severe problems. In this instance, we would suggest you notify your local hospital that you are resident in China, and your or another family member is rhesus negative. They will not stock-pile blood just in case you need it, but they will put supply provisions in place.

Otherwise Chinese and Hong Kong citizens have a fairly mixed group of all rhesus positive blood.

Hand, Foot and Mouth Disease
This disease is prevalent in Hong Kong and Guangdong, and appearing in clusters all over China. It is like a severe influenza, whilst more akin to chicken pox.

The child feels unwell and is not hungry. They loose interest, become lethargic and may complain of a sore throat. Soon red blotches appear on the tongue and inside the mouth, which turn into white blisters. This spreads to red spots on the hands and feet. Not all people have all of the symptoms.

This disease usually affects primary school ages, and often schools are closed for a month following an outbreak. Anyone is at risk of catching it, including infants and adults. Adults usually have the necessary antibodies in their systems to deal with any infection unnoticed.
Image: Hand Foot and Mouth Disease

For the technically minded, HFMD is caused by viruses that belong to the enterovirus genus (group). This group of viruses includes polioviruses, coxsackieviruses, echoviruses, and enteroviruses. The majority of infections are cause by either Coxsackievirus A16 or Enterovirus 71.

Prevention and Treatment
There is no vaccination, and both prevention and treatment involve good personal hygiene and avoiding contact with infected people, or anything they touch.

Parents of infected youngsters will most likely also have the disease, to which they will appear immune. However, whilst the disease is in their systems, they can pass this on to others!

Neither is there any direct treatment and you should allow the disease to run its course. Relief in the form of painkillers and sprays is available from your local Chinese medical practitioners. Otherwise simply ensure the patient has enough fluid intake.

My wife's Brother's daughter (Loi Loi aged 4) had this disease in June of 2010 and she was kept off school for 2-weeks. She was very lethargic and not interested in anyone or anything for about 5 days. The illness ran its course in about 9 days; however she was still infectious to others for a full week after this!

HFMD is not normally in itself a life-threatening disease, but very occasionally it is combined with other infections of a far more deadly nature. It is responsible for a few score deaths worldwide each year, usually those suffering already from immune deficiencies. We are not health professionals, so if you have any concerns whatsoever, seek immediate advice from your local heath practitioner.

Infection is spread from person to person by direct contact with infectious virus. Infectious virus is found in the nose and throat secretions, saliva, blister fluid, and stools of infected people. The virus is most often spread by persons with unwashed, virus-contaminated hands and by contact with virus-contaminated surfaces.

Wash hands regularly, and also toys and cutlery etc. All surfaces, toys, and other items should first be washed with soap and water, and then thoroughly cleansed with a mild bleach solution. This will help stem the spread of the disease to others.

For further information please see:
CDC Heathcare
This information is as supplied by ourselves, and ably supported by our friends and various internet portals.
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