Bizarre skin disease eludes Vietnam’s health officials

The unidentified skin disease plaguing Ba To District in Quang Ngai Province continues to elude Vietnam’s public health officials and medical research teams, who now have sort assistance from the World Health Organisation (WHO), the US Centre for Disease Control and Prevention and Japan’s Nagasaki University.

The Ministry of Health on May 20 proposed to clean up the district water supply system in an attempt to remove any infectious bacteria.

The ministry said that health authorities in Ba To District must adopt measures to strictly monitor the water resource to prevent residents from being affected.

One medical team after another has taken samples of blood, hair, nails of people from the affected areas, but the bizarre skin disease in the central province of Quang Ngai has yet to be identified.

The skin disease has already claimed 21 lives and is showing an upward trend with more than 230 infectious cases; mostly in Ba Dien Commune, whose residents use the spring water, well water and ground water, which are all contaminated.

In related news, the Preventive Medicine Centre in Quang Ngai Province has concluded that ‘Herbicide KANUP 480SL’ is the real culprit behind three deaths and 40 infected residents in Rieng Village of Son Ky Commune in Son Ha District.

After more than a month of investigation, health officials in the central province of Quang Ngai pointed out that the herbicide used in Son Ky Commune was responsible for three deaths and health problems for 40 others last April. Victims experienced symptoms of numbness of the hands and feet and severe eye problems.

The herbicide originated from the US and was bottled and supplied by a company in the northern province of Bac Giang.

Test results of samples of spring water and soil taken from the commune in Son Ha District showed contamination of ‘Glyphosate’, a broad-spectrum herbicide used to kill weeds. Contents of ‘Glyphosate’ were found in the water samples of up to 1 mg per litre, while in the soil samples, it measured up to 14.3 mg per kilogram.

Medical experts said that small amounts of ‘Glyphosate’ can cause harm to human health, and even kill if it exceeds permissible limits.

Accordingly, health authorities have asked residents to dig wells at a depth of 6-8 metres, to replace the current water supply.

Related articles:
No recorded medical document of bizarre skin disease: Ministry
Bizarre skin disease in Quang Ngai claims one more life
One more death from bizarre skin disease in Quang Ngai Province
Ministry issues new treatment plan for bizarre skin disease
Ba To District offers support to victims of bizarre skin disease
‘Ricketsia’ virus identified as cause of bizarre skin disease
Quang Ngai seeks expert advice on baffling skin disease
Vietnam to seek WHO help to diagnose strange skin disease 
Another succumbs to bizarre skin disease in Quang Nai Province
One more dead from strange skin disease in Quang Nai Province
Bizarre skin disease continues to spread

By Ng. Khanh, H. Minh - Translated by Bao Long

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