The deadly Streptococcus suis disease was found in five more cities across
Southwest China's Sichuan Province on Friday.
Also on Friday, one more person was killed by the bacteria, which is carried
by pigs, bringing the total death toll to 32.
The five new sites where infections have been found are: provincial capital
Chengdu, Zigong, Suining, Luzhou, and Mianyang. Twenty-five cases were
identified in the five cities in the past three days.
Since the outbreak started on June 24, official reports have previously only
identified Ziyang and Neijiang as the affected places.
The Ministry of Health said the new cases were discovered as a result of the
local health authorities' strengthened publicity efforts and were not
necessarily new infections.
Chen Nenggang, deputy mayor of Ziyang, said the city has issued more than 2
million posters urging farmers not to slaughter or eat sick pigs.
By noon on Friday, 163 confirmed human cases of the disease in Sichuan had
resulted in 32 deaths, 24 patients were in a serious condition.
Thanks to increased publicity, most farmers are aware of the grave
consequences of butchering or eating dead or sick pigs, said Li Jing, chief of
the publicity department of the Ziyang Party committee.
On Wednesday, three reporters from a Hong Kong television station paid a
farmer in Ziyang 40 yuan (US$4.9) to dig up a pig that had died of the disease.
"They took pictures of the pig to show what an infected pig looked like. But
they violated the quarantine law as digging the pig up could spread the
disease," Li said. Fortunately, local health and quarantine officials quickly
put a stop to the exhumation.
Meanwhile, four local officials in Ziyang have been removed from their posts
on the grounds of dereliction of duty.
In Dongfeng Town, Party head Wei Guicheng and Yang Kaiming, the town's deputy
chief, were removed from their posts after they failed to prevent a farmer from
butchering sick pigs. The farmer is still in hospital.
In Qingfeng town, quarantine official Pan Dinggang was sacked because he
allowed pigs to be transported outside an affected village. Name and location of
the fourth official were not disclosed.
Health Minister Gao Qiang went to Neijiang from Ziyang on Friday. He asked
local health authorities to provide prompt medical treatment to every patient.
He also asked medical workers to visit every villager to provide them with
In Beijing, Minister of Agriculture Du Qinglin asked provinces and
municipalities, especially those bordering the infected regions, to ensure
contingency plans are in place.