An anthrax epidemic in Shaanxi province which infected 19 victims is under control, the Health and Family Planning Commission of Shaanxi province said, with all patients in stable condition.
As of Sunday evening, 18 of the 19 diagnosed in Ganquan county, Yan'an city, were receiving hospital treatment. The other patient, with mild symptoms, is being treated at home.
Anthrax is an acute disease caused by the bacterium Bacillus anthracis. Most forms of the disease are lethal, and it affects mostly animals.
Several mules have been reported to have died of unknown causes in the county's Yuanzhuang village and residents with suspected anthrax were sent to hospital, according to Yang Xiao, deputy mayor of Yan'an.
To date 15 livestock, including mules, cattle and sheep are reported to have died in the village.
"My brother had kept a mule which died and doctors said he might be infected by the animal," a patient's family member, surnamed Yuan, said.
After the outbreak was reported, the provincial government sent experts and doctors, led by Ma Guanghui, director of Shaanxi Provincial Centre for Disease Control and Prevention, to the county, with 1,000 doses of anthrax vaccine.
According to Ma, his group inoculated 50 people who had been in close contact with infected livestock and people and disinfected 28,000 sq meters including animal pens, water sources, livestock slaughter points and farms where livestock had died.
Experts from the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention, based in Beijing, joined prevention and control work and carried out epidemiological investigations, Ma said.
"The investigation covered 122 people and we also gave anthrax prevention lectures on local TV programs," Ma said.
Liu Feng, deputy director of the provincial disease control center, said the best way to prevent infection was to avoid contact with sources of the illness and livestock that have died of the disease must not be eaten.