Thailand - A new immune-deficiency disease similar to systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) has been detected in Asians, especially in Taiwan, Hong Kong, the Philippines and Thailand.
This was revealed by Dr Ploenjan Chetchotisak of Khon Kaen University's faculty of medicine yesterday.
Ploenjan said she had treated a patient diagnosed as having scrofula, who received treatment for many years but was not cured completely.
Research by Srinagarind Hospital in Khon Kaen found that the patient fell into the category of non-tuberculous mycobacteria (NTM).
Srinagarind Hospital found 80 people who suffered from the disease in 2007.
The hospital has teamed up with Chiang Mai University, Ramathibodi and Siriraj hospitals to conduct in-depth research about the disease on 129 people. The three hospitals believe it is a new immune-deficiency disease that is different from Aids and SLE.
"The new disease is different from Aids, under which the immune system is destroyed after people are infected with HIV. People who suffer from this new disease have antibodies that destroy the immunity of liver and blood cells. They experience hair falling out and rashes,'' Ploenjan said.
The disease has not been found in children but adults over 20 years old. People in the Thai Northeast have been most affected, followed by the North.
The cause of the disease has not been clearly determined yet, aside from heredity and environmental factors.
The disease is not contagious among humans. One-third of those affected could develop chronic conditions. But there is no drug to cure the disease in Thailand.
Patients are treated according symptoms. Foreign countries use drugs that treat rheumatoid arthritis, which cost up to Bt100,000 per visit.
The research team is looking for ways to treat the disease without having to import expensive drugs.