Mysterious skin condition claims 24th victim in central Vietnam

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The mysterious skin condition that has stalked a district in the central Vietnam province of Quang Ngai since April last year has claimed another victim, provincial authorities say.

The death of 26-year-old Pham Thi An of Reu Village in Ba Dien Commune increases the death toll to 24, the Saigon Tiep Thi reported.

An was infected early this year and was treated at various hospitals in the region including Hue and Da Nang, said Le Huy, chief of staff of Quang Ngai Health Department.

Her four-year-old son Pham Van Sam had died last October of the same strange disease.

Le Han Phong, chairman of Ba To District, said Reu village has been a hotspot for the disease, with 124 of its 344 residents infected. The village has 97 families.

Phong said 16 of the deaths so far came from the village.

The disease, which has infected 240 people in the district, starts with thickened skin and blisters on hands and feet, and leads to multiple organ failures, starting with the liver. Most patients see liver enzyme levels shooting up to many times the normal.

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The Ministry of Health has sought help from the World Health Organization and the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in identifying and preventing the disease.

Two Belgian doctors visited the district early this month, observing that the outbreak peaks during the rainy season from November to April. No new infections were reported from the second half of June.

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