The Ondo State Government is working hard to control a strange disease which suddenly broke out in the Ode-Irele community of Ondo state, leading to the death of no fewer than 28 people in the past three days.
Residents say the disease broke out three days ago and spread rapidly around the community, killing its victim within 24 hours.
The cause of the disease remained unknown.
Experts say preliminary reports from victims revealed neurologic clinical symptoms: blindness, and loss of consciousness.
Ebola Alert, an evidence-driven group of volunteer professionals who helped with the Ebola Virus Disease interventions in the country, said 28 people have died from the disease.
But the State Health Commissioner, Dayo Adeyanju, put the number of dead victims at 12.
Mr. Adeyanju, while briefing newsmen in Akure, said preliminary investigations showed that the disease is not Ebola “as it does not manifest any of its symptoms, but it attacks the central nervous system of the victims”.
He said the state government, after getting information on the disease, immediately deployed officials who took samples from victims which was sent to Lagos for laboratory analysis to help understand the nature of the disease.
Mr. Adeyanju, who warned against spreading false information on social media, said the government is on top of the situation, and advised people in the council area to report any strange illness to the nearest health facility.
He assured that the government is also doing its best to contain the disease from further spreading out of the town while those infected were being quarantined at the General Hospital, Irele, with other patients moved out of the facility.
The Health Commissioner also advised people of the area to avoid handling dead bodies at this period to help contain further spread of the disease.
A journalist who visited the affected community Thursday said he was told by residents that the ailment had spiritual undertone.
“Community leaders said some people broke into a shrine, and the god became angry with them, striking all those people who have hands in the act,” the journalist said, asking not to be named.
“Our team also saw people performing rituals in the community. They believe that the ritual will appease the god and that the disease will end.”
But the state’s Commissioner for Information, Kayode Akinmade, said he was not aware of any spiritual dimension to the development.
“All I can tell you is that medical experts are on ground, attending to victims and doing all the necessary tests. Government is working hard to contain the disease, and I can tell you that it is under control,” Mr. Akinmade told PREMIUM TIMES.
Ebola Alert later posted an update on its twitter handle on Thursday night saying the disease is under control and that its cause was being investigated.
The organisation said the Federal Ministry of Health, the World Health Organisation, and the National Centre for Disease Control had been alerted of the outbreak.