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FG allays fears over strange ailment in Ondo


Mysterious-diseaseTHE Federal Government has released its initial technical findings on the suspected outbreak of yet-to-be named ailment reported in Ondo state. The Federal Ministry of Health said yesterday that preliminary laboratory investigations indicate that the outbreak could not be attributed to any infectious organism.

Government also ruled out the possibility of the Ebola Virus Disease as feared by some. Also, the World Health Organization (WHO) has denied media reports that quoted it as attributing the Ondo outbreak to pesticides.

WHO said yesterday that the report never emanated from its office, as it would not issue a statement on an outbreak in the country without the government. In a statement in Abuja, Minister of State for Health, Fidelis Nwankwo, also called on people not to panic.

He said: “News of the occurrence of sudden illness and death of people spread in Nigeria and beyond our shores in the week that just ended. The illness was thought by many to be Ebola Virus Disease or similar virulent infectious disease leading to widespread apprehension among members of the public, particularly those living in proximity to the two affected communities – Ayadi and Ode-Irele in Irele Local Government Area of Ondo State.

“The victims of the illness are males between the ages of 22 and 75 years. They mostly exhibited headache, blurring of vision, sudden blindness, loss of speech, unconsciousness and sudden death within 48 hours.

At the last count, Eighteen (18) of the twenty three (23) cases have died. The remaining 5 are receiving treatment at University College Hospital (UCH) Ibadan. Epidemiological findings, he said, indicate a strong linkage of the outbreak with the consumption of a local gin that may have been contaminated with methanol- a poisonous material.

He noted: “ At this stage, the particular poisonous substance is being ascertained. The results of these detailed investigations currently being conducted by government and partners are still being awaited and will be made public as soon as possible.

“The assuring news however, is that no new cases have been reported in the past one hundred (100) hours and no new mortality in the last Seventy Two (72) hours. We therefore believe that the situation is under control and that the stability will be sustained, while active case search and contact tracing continue in earnest.

He called on the public to remain calm but very vigilant and to report any events of public health concern to the nearest health facility or health authorities.

“People should not panic or take any action inimical to their comfort, well-being or business based on false information or rumour,” he observed.. Country Representative of WHO, Dr Rui Gama Vaz, however tasked the Federal and Ondo state governments to find the cause of the disease. He said: “I did not, nor did my office, make any statement.

What we have agreed is that if there is any statement, this will be done together jointly by the Federal Ministry of Health and the WHO as we did for Ebola, as we did when we eradicated guinea worm, and all other diseases. So, this is not correct, the information that has been circulating about the disease is not from WHO Country office of Nigeria.”

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