Vietnam's rash-causing moths could be evolving

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moths from two different species that caused severely itchy rashes in fishermen from Quang Nam Province earlier this month.

Moths from two different species that caused itchy rashes in fishermen off Vietnam's central coast recently could be adapting to their environments, a biology teacher has said.

Many fishermen from Quang Nam Province got itchy red rashes they said were caused by strange moths around their boats over the last two weeks. The rashes were so itchy that some fishermen scratched until they bled.

Moths from two different species have been caught, a white variety with a wingspan of around three centimeters, and a yellow species of five centimeters.

Phan Thi Thanh Diem, from Quang Nam University, said the moths have adapted to their environment and the itchier wing "powder," which is basically tiny scales, was a result.

"There must be some chemicals that affected the moths, like some industrial waste," she said.

Diem said there were moths living around industrial waste dumps in the area that have had to adapt to the environment and now have dark wings.

She said itchy butterfly's wing powder is rare, and that the butterfly samples need to be studied further before more detailed conclusions can be made.

Some fishing boats from the province have not able to set sail again because their crew members are still itchy from the butterfly incident last week.

Pham Van Lan, a 36-year-old fisherman, on Monday said the moths surrounded lights on their boat a week ago when they are around one nautical mile offshore.

 

A fisherman from Quang Nam with red rashes all over his body, caused by pollen from strange moths.

"We thought there wouldn't be any problems, so we chased them away, but then many people aboard had rashes," he said.

Lan said he has been sailing a long time over the central coast but had never encountered such itchy moths.

Nguyen Van Nong, 54, was the hardest hit. He could not sleep or eat properly for several days due to the itchiness.

Fisherman Tran Ngoc Bay, 47, said he saw the moths flying up at the fishermen from the water.

"When the moths came, we would turn off the lights. But what made us surprised was that when the lights went on again, the moths just flew up from the water."

Health officials said the fishermen need to prepare anti-allergy medicine.

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