By Rafiu Ajakaye
At least 62 people are confirmed dead by a yet-to-be-diagnosed disease, a health official in Nigeria’s north central Kogi state has said.
"About 62 people have now been killed by this mysterious disease," Health Commissioner Saka Yusuf said late Friday.
Authorities said laboratory tests were conducted at tertiary health institutions to ascertain the exact cause of the deaths across some communities in the state.
Yusuf said that preliminary laboratory tests of samples from the affected areas tested negative for lassa fever -- a disease whose symptoms include high fever, swelling and bleeding.
Lassa fever, a disease experts say is contracted through rats, is currently ravaging some Nigerian states, including commercial capital Lagos and north central Kwara, but deaths have been minimal.
"On arrival at the community, we interacted with the locals and samples were taken from their water sources and food supply. It was discovered that the people affected by the disease have common symptoms including abdominal pain, vomiting and stooling,” he said.
The official said that those found to be affected by the disease were transferred to Kogi State Specialist Hospital, where an empirical diagnosis of food poisoning to rule out gastroenteritis was made.
"They [patients] are, however, responding well to the instituted line of treatment," he added.