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Mysterious Skin Disease Kills 19 in Vietnam May 4, 2012
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Vietnamese health officials examinig victims of the new emerging skin disease.
The World Health Organization says it is “concerned” about an outbreak of a mysterious skin disease that has killed at least 19 people and sickened 171 others in central Vietnam.

That country is asking for international assistance in finding the cause and a cure.

The disease starts with a rash on the hands and feet that looks like severe burns.

The most acute cases can lead to high fever, loss of appetite and eventual organ failure.

Vietnamese officials say the disease was first detected last year in the central province of Quang Ngai and appears not to be highly contagious.

New cases had subsided until a string of new infections recently emerged, mainly in one impoverished village.

Frightened residents of Reu have laid branches across the paths to the homes of infected people in an attempt to isolate the outbreak.

Initial tests suggest the disease may be caused in part by the Rickettsia bacterium, which is transmitted by lice or flees.

Photo: VietnamNet Bridge