The Ministry of Health and the World Health Organization (WHO) on June 28 made a joint-statement on the bizarre skin disease in Ba To district of the central province of Quang Ngai.
According to the Ministry of Health, the strange disease in Quang Ngai is actually a chronic intoxication, which can cause inflammation and wounds in hands, feet and liver. Only people in Ba To district are discovered to suffer from this syndrome.
The first patients were reported in Ba To district last April. By June 2012, a total of 216 cases have been recorded, including 12 deaths, in five communes of Ba To district. At present, 18 people are being treated at hospitals in Quang Ngai and neighboring provinces.
The Ministry of Health has conducted many surveys in Ba To and until now, it has not found out the reasons causing this strange disease. However, the Ministry has excluded infection as a cause.
In addition, many patients were malnourished and many of them ate rice that contained aflatoxins, which is toxic for human. Experts also did not find out heavy metal or agricultural chemicals in samples collected from patients or environment in Ba To.
The WHO and the US Center for Disease Control (USCDC) have closely combined with the Ministry of Health to research this disease. In early June, two WHO and USCDC’s experts came to Vietnam to work with the Preventive Medicine Agency.
“We support the Ministry of Health’s measures to control the disease in Quang Nam and we believe that the Ministry is going in the right direction. As we do not know about the source of this syndrome, seeking for the cause may be longer than schedule and would be a challenge,” said Dr. Takeshi Kasai, chief WHO representative in Vietnam.
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