Viet Nam says it will ask for international help to find out what is causing a skin infection that has already killed 19 people. More than 170 people in the country’s central province of Quang Ngai have reported symptoms.
The disease begins with a rash on the hands and feet: it can progress to liver problems and multiple organ failure. Vietnamese health ministry tests have failed to pinpoint the cause.
The mystery illness was first reported between April and December 2011 and then subsided, but broke out again March 2012. Health workers say it responds well to early intervention but is difficult to treat once established.
Vietnamese media quoted officials in Quang Ngai as saying that the condition might be caused by chemicals. But the health ministry said it had yet to draw conclusions from its own tests: it hoped to have preliminary results within 10 days.
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