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Doctors puzzled by R’kiri ‘flower disease’

AT least 200 people, most of them children, in northeastern Ratanakkiri province, have been struck with a skin infection that has left health officials scratching their heads.

Villagers in the province’s Lumphat district have referred to the unknown condition only as the “flower disease”.

Sar Sophat, a resident of Dey Lo village, said Wednesday that her 2-year-old granddaughter had been infected with the itchy condition.

“It makes us itchy, and many big white spots emerge on the entire body from head to toe,” she said.

Touch Bun Thoeun, a physician at the Lumphat referral hospital, said he has never seen the condition before, warning that it could spread to other areas without protective measures.

“[Patients] can be cured within only one week if they are not so serious,” he said. “But if the spots are scratched and become ulcers, it will be very difficult to cure and will take a long time.”

Touch Bun Thoeun said he thought the infection came from dust or pollen.

Either way, roughly 200 affected people have streamed in to his hospital over the last two months, he said. Most have been children between 5 and 10 years old.

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