Health officials says the unidentified illness is not an epidemic or contagious

A mysterious illness has erupted in Nigeria, taking the lives of eighteen victims. The outbreak started in the Ode-Irele town, Ondo state, and immediately began to spread without warning. The disease is said to be characterized with the symptoms of blurred vision, headaches and loss of consciousness. Patients complained about having severe migraines and later lost their sight. Eighteen of the victims succumbed to the disease within 24 hours of contact while five are still blind. The group of victims were motorcyclists that had gathered at a local pub for drinks where it seems they came in contact with something that triggered the symptoms.

Local Nigerian health officials and experts from the World Health Organization arrived in Ode-Irele to identify the disease. FRANCE 24 spoke with Ondo State Minister of Health Dalu Adeyanju, who has been appointed to lead the investigation. Adeyanju said,

“We are still awaiting toxicology results, but the clinical findings are in keeping with the idea that this was ethanol poisoning. If you look at the symptoms, including optical nerve damage, they are classic.”

Dr. Adeyanju went on to confirm that “70 percent of those affected had consumed alcohol before falling ill.” It is uncertain if the other 30% had consumed alcohol as well and Adeyanju could not yet confirm that they had.

Although people initially feared that the outbreak could have been Ebola related, blood tests ruled out Ebola. The state government has set up an emergency response task team to answer any questions and continue further research.

-Abesi Manyando(@abesipr)