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WHO blames poisoning for suspicious deaths in Nigeria

19 April 2015 15:33


The likely cause of mysterious deaths of at least 18 people in a southwestern Nigerian town earlier this week has been pesticide poisoning, the World Health Organization (WHO) says.

The “current hypothesis is cause of the event is herbicides…. Tests done so far are negative for viral and bacterial infection,” Gregory Hartl, WHO spokesman, said in a Sunday tweet.

The deaths were first reported earlier this week in Ode-Irele in southwestern Ondo state. A local government spokesman blamed the deaths on a “mysterious disease.”

The affected people with symptoms such as headache, weight loss, blurred vision and loss of consciousness, perished within a day of falling ill.

On Saturday, government spokesman Kayode Akinmade ruled out Ebola or any other known virus as the cause of deaths, saying, “There is no patient of the disease in any hospital and the disease has not spread beyond the town.”

Apart from government experts and health officials, WHO epidemiologists arrived in the town for further investigation. Urine, blood and cerebrospinal fluid samples had been taken from victims and all samples were sent to Lagos University Teaching Hospital on Saturday morning.

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