Mystery illness in Vietnam sickens 191, country calls for help

Posted on April 20, 2012

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(CBS/AP) A mystery illness in Vietnam has killed 19 people and sickened 191 others, promping the country’s health ministry to call on international health experts for help.

The infection has mostly affected children and young people in an impoverished district in central Vietnam, according to officials. It begins with a high fever, loss of appetite and a rash that covers the hands and feet. Patients who are not treated early can develop liver problems and eventually face multi-organ failure, said Le Han Phong, chairman of the People’s Committee in Ba To District in Quang Ngai province.

Nearly 100 people remain hospitalized, including 10 in critical condition while patients with milder symptoms are being treated at home. The illness responds well to treatment if detected early, but 29 patients have been reinfected, Phong said.

The Ministry of Health sent a team of health officials to the area earlier this month, but they were unable to determine the cause of the illness. The ministry has since asked the World Health Organization and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to help investigate.

CBS News

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