Mystery Killer Preying on Vietnamese Youth

A mysterious illness that begins as a high fever with little appetite and spreads to a rash on the hands and feet is responsible for the loss of 17 lives, so far, in an impoverished Vietnamese district. 171 others have also been sickened but have been able to recover with proper and timely medical care.

Patients whose symptoms are successfully treated still are vulnerable to reinfection. Failure to receive treatment early on can result in liver damage and multi-organ failure.

The illness was first detected a year ago, in April 2011, but was thought to have been eradicated by October. Last month, 68 new cases emerged. Most patients are from Ba Dien village in Ba To, one of the poorest in the province.

After a team sent by the Ministry of Health failed to determine the cause of this illness earlier this month, the World Health Organization and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have now been asked to help determine just what, exactly, is killing the children of Ba Dien. [Newsday - Image via atm2003/Shutterstock]