Hong Kong has suffered its first fatality from enterovirus 71 - a two-year-old boy who died in hospital. The youngster, a Hongkonger who lived in Shenzhen, developed a fever and vomiting on June 1. His parents took him to Queen Mary Hospital four days later, a spokesman from the Centre for Health Protection said. He was admitted to the intensive care unit and died on June 6. Nasal swab samples tested positive for the viral infection yesterday, the spokesman said. EV 71 can cause severe neurological diseases in children and hand, foot and mouth disease, he said. Lo Wing-lok, an expert in infectious diseases, said he was not surprised at the fatality as there had been a surge in infections on the mainland and in Hong Kong since last year and expected many more cases. He said the boy might have been infected on the mainland. 'The lethality of the [EV 71] infection in children is actually much higher than swine flu,' Dr Lo said. He said the government had overreacted to the swine flu pandemic but should not forget there were other viruses that could be life-threatening to young children. 'Preventive measures against swine flu will also work on guarding against EV 71, but better toilet hygiene should be added as the virus can be spread in faeces.' This was the 21st case this year. There were 16, 12 and 98 cases in 2006, 2007 and 2008. The centre spokesman urged vigilance against the infection, spread by direct contact with nose and throat discharges.