With the loss of three new lives, the death toll from a disease suspected to be yellow fever has climbed to 20 at Okpeilo-Otukpa in Ogbadibo Local Government Area of Benue State.
The state Ministry of Health through its Permanent Secretary, Andrew Amee, had on Tuesday raised the alarm over a “strange illness” that had claimed 17 lives.
Speaking in a phone interview on Saturday, the state epidemiologist, Dr. Sam Ngishe, said three more deaths had been recorded, bringing the number of deaths to 20 – 19 males and a female – all aged between seven and 40.
Ngishe also said 26 people, two females and 24 males, had fallen ill with the sickness.
He said, “Altogether, there have been 20 deaths, and the state Ministry of Health is at the location and we have been able to move the victims to different hospitals.
“We have collected samples and sent to the National Reference Laboratory to be able to establish the kind of organism that is causing the problem. But we are thinking in the direction of yellow fever. You know there is yellow fever in Enugu State. It is also in Delta and Edo states. And the presentation has been very unusual for the current episode of the outbreak.
“So, our mind is in the direction of yellow fever. Of course, it’s a viral hemorrhagic condition. When the result comes out, we will be able to say for sure what it is. As we speak, the state is planning to initiate a yellow fever campaign which is coming up very soon. And, of course, we will continue with the management of the patients.”
Ngishe lamented that the community had a wrong perception of what was happening to them.
“They are thinking that they have offended the gods of the land, and this has caused what is happening,” he said.