The Minister of State For Health, Mr. Fidelis Nwankwo, on Monday, April 20, 2015 issued a statement over the recent cases of mysterious illness and sudden deaths in two communities of Ondo State.
The World Health Organization, (WHO) sent some delegates to investigate the strange outbreak which has killed over 10 persons in the affected communities.
Below is a full text of the statement:
“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.
“The epidemiological system detected the outbreak and promptly notified the Federal Ministry of Health in accordance with standard public health practice.
“The Federal Ministry of Health, Nigeria Centre for Disease Control quickly deployed experts to support Ondo State Ministry of Health in rapid response operations.
“Preliminary Laboratory investigations indicate that the Outbreak cannot be attributed to any infectious Organism (Bacterial or Viral). The Outbreak is also clearly not due to Ebola Virus Disease, as feared by many.
“Epidemiological findings indicate a strong linkage of the outbreak with the consumption of a local gin that may have been contaminated with methanol (poisonous material).
“At this stage, the particular poisonous substance (Toxin) 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.
“However, if any suspected case is found, it should be reported to the nearest Health Center for prompt investigation and treatment.
“The Federal Government is assuring the general public that we shall continue to exercise diligence to prevent its re-occurrence or that of any other public health risks in any part of the country.
“We shall ensure rapid response to any events of public health concern which the system in place timely detects.
“To this end, I wish to enjoin you 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 rumours.
“I will like to use this opportunity to commend the Ondo State Government for their prompt response against the outbreak. We also thank the WHO, UNICEF and other partners for their concern and support.
“The General Public and especially residents of the affected communities are once again reassured of their health and safety.”