Arsenic found in hair of fatal skin patient in central Vietnam

TN News

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Hair samples of the boy who died of a mysterious skin condition in central Vietnam's Quang Ngai Province showed elevated levels of arsenic, doctors said.

Tang Chi Thuong, director of Ho Chi Minh City Children's Hospital No.1 where the boy died May 27, said arsenic can cause skin inflammation, the first and most common symptoms among all patients suffering from the condition so far, according to a Sunday report by news website VnExpress.

However, Thuong said a lot more patients must be tested, and at different laboratories, before an official conclusion should be drawn about the skin condition which has been plaguing Quang Ngai's Ba To District since April last year.

Thach was transferred to the hospital on May 20 after falling sick in March.

The arsenic level in one of his hair samples was 100 higher than normal while several others showed negative results.

Environmental surveys in 2011 found arsenic in groundwater in many places in northern and central Vietnam, VnExpress said.

The Health Ministry is prepared to conduct more tests on more patients.

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At least 214 people from Ba To District have been infected with the unknown skin ailment and 23 have died, including the most recent casualty, a 33-year-old woman who expired on May 30.

Health officials have visited the district many times but remain puzzled as to the cause of the condition, which can quickly turn lethal by causing multiple organs to fail, beginning with the liver.

The World Health Organization said they have not received an official request for help with the situation.

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