The Ondo State Government says a strange disease that has killed over a dozen people since its outbreak on April 15 in Ode-Irele, Irele Local Government Area of the state, is not contagious and could be a result of ethanol poisoning.
The Commissioner for Health in the state, Dayo Adeyanju, stated this on Sunday at a news conference in Akure.
He said findings from post-mortem carried out on the victims and other laboratory tests revealed that the disease was neither epidemic nor contagious.
According to the commissioner, preliminary report showed ethanol poison found in the systems of all the victims.
“Our investigations revealed that the victims, who are commercial motorcyclists, gathered at some local joints to take alcoholic substance mixed with roots and some other local herbs on the eve of the outbreak of the disease.
“I can assure you that the disease is in no way contagious. The fact that none of the caregivers has contracted the disease has greatly underscored this point.
“Therefore, the fear of spread does not arise and should be discouraged.
“We strongly suspect ethanol poison and in view of this, we have ordered for another toxicology test for surviving victims,” Mr. Adeyanju said.
Ebola Alert, an evidence-driven group of volunteer professionals who helped with the Ebola Virus Disease interventions in Nigeria, had said on Friday that samples taken from victims and tested in a laboratory in Lagos tested negative to Ebola and five other deadly diseases.
“#OndoX samples tests negative for Ebola Virus, Yellow Fever, Lassa Fever Virus, Rift Valley Fever Virus, Dengue Virus, West Nile Virus,” the organisation said.
The Ondo commissioner, who said that there had been no report of new cases in the last three days, explained that 18 out of the 23 people affected have died.
He said the five survivors, who have currently gone blind, have been referred to the University Teaching Hospital, Ibadan, for further examination and monitoring.
Mr. Adeyanju said he would not join issues with traditionalists who believe that the outbreak of the disease was because some youth stole from shrine of some gods.
The commissioner, however, said that the dead would be buried in body bags to curtail any spread of the disease.