HANOI, March 19 (Xinhua) -- The mysterious skin disease which has affected 215 people in Vietnam's central Quang Ngai province is caused by Aflatoxin, a toxin produced by fungus in mouldy rice, reported by local Vietnam News on Tuesday quoting sources from the Vietnamese Ministry of Health (MOH).
Phan Trong Lan, deputy head of MOH's Preventive Medicine Department, told local media that last Thursday scientists took samples of rice from families of those infected at Reu village in Ba To district where the disease started to rise, for tests.
Results showed that 100 percent of the infected patients ate mouldy rice, which was contaminated with the toxin nine times higher than the safe level. The toxic agent even causes liver cancer in men.
The local residents' habits of rice-eating were also surveyed. Accordingly, they dry grain before use, but store them in timber barns and do not care about the rice's quality, which often decreases due to moisture.
The disease, which causes skin peeling off, was first reported in the province in 2011 and it was believed to have been controlled last August. However, it re-occurred from Feb. 19, infecting 17 and killing one, so far this year.
So far, the disease affected a total of 215 people, mainly from Ba To district of central Quang Ngai province, about 730 km south of capital Hanoi; of whom 23 people died, according to MOH.