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JUST IN: Unknown illness claims four lives in Benue community

An unknown illness has reportedly claimed the lives of four persons in the rural community of Oye-Obi in Obi local government area of Benue state.

The President-Elect, Igede National Youths Council, Andyson Iji Egbodo, who raised the alarm on Wednesday night on behalf of the villagers told our correspondent by telephone that 15 more people with same symptoms are already hospitalised in the affected community.

“The sickness has so far killed four persons in two weeks. The four victims namely Happiness Ogbu, Onah Ogbedu, Andy Edu and Wisdom Agwo developed the same symptoms of headache, internal heat, diarrhoea, vomiting, stomach ache, weakness of the body and swollen stomach and died alike,” he said.

Egbodo added that about six more persons who as at Wednesday were developing the same symptoms have been moved to the General Hospital in Oju while the remaining nine which made up the total of 15 on admission are kept at a private dispensary.

The youth leader who suspected the illness to be Lassa fever has appealed as a matter of urgency to the state government as well as relevant health authorities to come to the aid of the boundary settlement people before the illness causes further harm.

When contacted, the state’s epidemiologist, Dr. Sam Ngishe, confirmed the death of the four people, adding that the health authorities were alerted to the situation few hours ago.

Ngishe said an emergency response team from the state’s Ministry of Health had been immediately sent to the area to contain the situation while three of the patients are expected to be moved to Makurdi on Thursday for further investigation.

The epidemiologist added that until investigation on the matter is completed, he cannot immediately confirm the nature of the illness as there were already two sides to the rumour of possible causes of the deaths.

He explained that there were reports that the community’s source of drinking water was poisoned with Gamalin and those affected may have consumed fish taken from the pond while another side of the story suggested that the people who died presented symptoms of fever.

“We can’t based our findings yet on these rumours. We’ll have to investigate it and by tomorrow (Thursday), we will able to tell the press what exactly the challenge might be,” Ngishe said.

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