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Nigeria investigating mystery killer disease

CHINA DAILY | Updated: 2020-02-14 10:53

LAGOS, Nigeria-The Nigerian government is trying to identify the cause of a mystery illness that has claimed more than a dozen lives in a central region of the country, an official said on Tuesday.

Chikwe Ihekweazu, the head of the Nigeria Center for Disease Control, or NCDC, said the National Rapid Response Team is supporting the efforts of the state government of Benue in investigating the outbreak.

Reports of residents falling ill came in three weeks ago, when four deaths were reported. The senator representing the Benue South district, Abba Moro, told the Senate that so far the deaths of 15 people have been attributed to the mystery illness. Some 104 people have been admitted to hospitals.

Moro urged the country's health ministry to send medical experts to determine the illness' origins. Patients suffer from conditions including vomiting, fever, headaches, swelling and diarrhea.

Ihekweazu said viral hemorrhagic Lassa fever is among known conditions that have been ruled out as a cause of the illness. He said some water samples had been tested for the presence of chemicals. The last death linked to the outbreak was reported on Feb 7.

The NCDC confirmed that the first cases were reported in January.

Nigerian Health Minister Osagie Ehanire said in a briefing on Friday that the outbreak did not appear to be caused by the Ebola virus, which has hit West Africa in recent years.

He also said the illness is not caused by the novel coronavirus that has spread from China.

Agencies and Otiato Opali in Nairobi, Kenya contributed to this story.

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