A strange disease with symptoms, including diarrhoea, blood stain vomiting, and high fever, has killed 50 people at Okunran, Okoloke and Isanlu-Esa villages in Yagba West local government, Kogi state, TheCable reports.
The state commissioner of health, Saka Audu who visited the affected areas on Thursday, confirmed that the disease is yet unknown.
“We initially suspected Lassa fever after getting some misleading reports about people bleeding around, so we made a diagnosis for viral haemorrhagic fever (lassa fever), but the result was negative,” a consultant at ECWA Hospital, Egbe, Jannette Hathorn reportedly told Audu.
She said the first case was that of a two-and-half-year old child, who died 12 hours after he was brought to the hospital.
“We are sure it is not Lassa fever; but our concern is that we do not know exactly what is happening. We have not arrived at a definitive diagnosis,” Hathorn said.
“Two adult patients were also brought here; one showed symptoms of ulcer-viral illness, but there was no bleeding component of any haemorrhagic symptom.
“We isolated them and both of them were treated for malaria. When they started improving, we let them go.
“Another parent brought a child to the hospital and pleaded for help. He said that 50 people had died in their village with similar symptoms of bloodstained vomiting, diarrhea and fever.
“When the child died, we called the World Health Organisation (WHO). Yesterday (Wednesday), their officials came and took samples of everything; we must know exactly what we are dealing with.”
Audu said government got the information about the outbreak of the disease last week and a technical team was immediately sent to take samples which were sent to General Hospital Irrua, Edo state, “for definitive investigation”.
According to him, the Fulani settlers have been reported to be the worst hit by the disease which broke out three weeks ago.
“We want to determine the cause of these mysterious deaths and then proffer solution to it,” Audu said.
“For now, what is clear and confirmed is that it is not Lassa fever; but whatever it is, we will carry out further investigation and come up with definitive diagnosis.
“We are digging into the real cause of this ailment. All hands are on deck toward unraveling the definitive cause of the mysterious deaths among the kids.
“We want to reassure the people that government is with them and will take full responsibility of those who are already ill, so as to arrest the spread of this disease.”
Damina Ibrahim, leader of the Fulani settlement, told journalists that children were worst hit.
He explained that parents became more confused when doctors could not ascertain the cause of the illness, saying that many died in the hospital while others were discharged without any cure.
“We at first used herbs to treat the patients but had to rush to the hospital after recording several deaths,” he said.
“We have lost more than 50 people and still have many helpless patients at home.”