Panic as ‘strange illness’ kills 187 in Nigeria

Thursday November 19 2020

Leaders and health officials have asked Nigeria's Federal Ministry of Health to investigate a strange disease that has led to deaths. PHOTO | FILE | NMG


At least 187 people have died from a strange illness in Nigeria in the last two weeks, raising fears of another epidemic.

Communities in Kogi, Benue, Enugu and Delta states are now living in fear of the unclassified infection which presents symptoms such as headache, fever, abdominal pain, general body weakness and loss of appetite. In some instances, some people have presented symptoms of inability to pass waste, while for others their urine and stool are tinged with blood.

Leaders and health officials in the area have informed the Federal Ministry of Health, who together with the World Health Organization (WHO) are investigating the disease.

The Kogi House of Assembly called for a probe to determine the nature of the disease after 50 people in the area died.

A motion on Urgent Public Importance, raised by Anthony Ujah (a representative for Olamaboro) on the strange illness was unanimously passed.

The lawmaker said attempts to treat the disease in hospital or with local herbs have been unsuccessful.


The Deputy Speaker of the House, Mr Ahmed Mohammed, said the community shares a boundary with Enugu State where also more than 67 people had died in similar circumstance.

The Enugu State Government also confirmed the deaths from a yet unidentified disease in Ette Uno and Umuopu in Igbo-Eze North Local Government Area.

A health officer in the area put the death toll at over 67, adding that specimen had been collected for proper diagnosis and treatment of other patients.

“The state Ministry of Health has been notified and investigations are currently ongoing to unravel the cause of the deaths,” the official told The Nation, requesting to remain anonymous so as not to violate communication protocol.

“We have collected samples from the affected persons and we are looking out for possible cases of Lassa fever, cholera, yellow fever and meningitis. Coronavirus tests will equally start in the affected communities today.”

The Ministry of Health and Human Services in Benue state has also reported the death of about 50 persons due to an unknown illness in Okpeilo-Otukpa Community in Ogbadibo Local Government Area (LGA).

The strange ailment has been reported also to be ravaging Ute-Okpu and Idumusa communities of Ika North East Council Area of oil-rich Delta State, with a death toll of more than 30.

Dr Mordi Ononye, the Delta state Commissioner for Health, has advised residents to be calm as the government was working to unravel the mysterious disease.