QUANG NGAI — Fourteen out of 26 blood samples from patients with a mysterious skin disease in the central province of Quang Ngai have tested positive for the rickettsia virus which is transferred from animals to people by lice or fleas, Pham Hong Duong, director of the provincial health department, said yesterday.
So far, the disease has affected 172 people and killed 19 in the province's rural communes.
The department has asked the province to provide financial assistance to equip medical facilities with blood filters and necessary medications to treat affected patients in a timely manner.
The World Health Organisation has also said that it stood ready to support the Vietnamese Government in tackling the disease, but a WHO official said yesterday that the organisation had not yet received any requests for support from the Ministry of Health.
The situation has turned more serious since the disease was first noticed last year. Despite the participation of several agencies, no headway has been made in controlling the disease. Local health officials fear they will not be able to control the epidemic without the support of foreign agencies.
The initial symptoms of the illness are high fever, loss of appetite and a rash on the palms and feet. If it is not treated early, the disease can affect the respiratory system, causing eye and liver problems, miscarriages and multiple organ failure, local doctors have said. — VNS