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500 million Chinese infected with tuberculosis

The number of infectious tuberculosis patients in China has exceeded 5 million and that of Chinese infected with the tuberculosis bacteria has topped 500 million, accounting for 45 percent of the country's total population, according to the results of the "Fifth National Tuberculosis Epidemiology Site Survey" released by the Ministry of Health on March 21.

China has the world's second largest tuberculosis epidemic only after India, and the number of Chinese tuberculosis patients account for 14 percent of the world's total. According to infectious disease statistics gathered over the past 10 years, the number of tuberculosis and hepatitis B patients has always been higher than that of any other disease. The mortality of tuberculosis is second only to that of HIV/AIDS, said Hao Yang, deputy director of the Disease Prevention and Control Bureau under the Ministry of Health.

What is even worse, many tuberculosis patients know nothing about their conditions. Wang Lixia, director of the Tuberculosis Prevention and Control Center under the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention, said that compared with the 60 percent detection rate required by the World Health Organization (WHO), the detection rate in China has long ranked among several bottom countries. Only 20 percent of Chinese tuberculosis patients could be detected in the 1990s. Many are not aware today that their coughing and low fever signs are possibly the symptoms of tuberculosis.

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