A strange disease has ravaged a small community in western Nigeria, killing at least 14 people in the last 10 days. Residents of the Ikale community in Ondo state have described the mysterious epidemic as more deadly than Ebola and many are afraid to touch the dead, the Daily Post in Nigeria reported.
“We are worried. Our people are dying. We don’t know this sickness,” resident Mary Omogbehinla told the Daily Post on Thursday. “We can’t touch those who have been killed. I have counted about 19, others said 14. God please, have mercy on us.”
Four new patients with symptoms of the strange disease were isolated at a local hospital in Ode Irele. The state’s health commissioner, Dayo Adeyanju, said Thursday the government launched an awareness campaign to encourage residents to report any potential cases of the mysterious ailment. The World Health Organization (WHO), Nigeria’s health ministry and other health agencies were also contacted to help identify the disease and to ensure the cases do not spread, the Daily Post said Thursday.
Adeyanju has advised the public against burying victims at home. He said health officials were using the same protective equipment used during the deadly Ebola outbreak to handle patients and victims of this unknown epidemic. The symptoms are reportedly different than those of Ebola, which include diarrhea, vomiting and fever. Victims of the unknown epidemic complained of headaches and weight loss before losing their sight and succumbing to the illness, Punch Nigeria news reported Friday.
The WHO declared Nigeria Ebola-free in October last year, after the deadly virus claimed seven lives out of the total 19 cases reported in the West African country. Health officials traced the first case in Nigeria to a Liberian-born American diplomat, Patrick Sawyer, who arrived in Nigeria in July 2014. Sawyer died from the disease four days later at a hospital in Lagos state, Punch Nigeria news said.