Health officials in Zamfara state, located in Nigeria’s northwestern region, are in a race against time to contain the spread of a strange new disease with a high mortality.
At least 13 people have died following the outbreak of a mysterious disease in Bindim, a small rural mining community in Zamfara state, according to the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN).
Locals say the disease, which first appeared on Monday, is characterized by vomiting, joint pain, bleeding from the eyes, and possible death in as little as 3 hours.
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Kabir Mikailu, a resident, told NAN that more than 10 people had died in the village and several lucky survivors were rushed to public hospitals for medical attention.
Three more people — all students — also died at a government-run Arabic boarding school, according to a senior education official.
The council head in charge of Bindim, Alhaji Salisu Isa-Dangulbi, told press Tuesday that council authorities had mobilized a team of medics — headed by its director of health — to the affected village to contain the spread and investigate the immediate cause of the disease, which appears to affect mostly women and children.
“We have also reported this situation to state government through the ministries of health and local government for further action.
“We are waiting for the medical team to finish its work so as to know the cause of the outbreak,” Isa-Dangulbi said.
In the meantime, authorities have established two crisis management centers, one at the school and another at the local hospital.
In 2010, more than 400 people died from complications arising from lead poisoning due to illegal and uncontrolled mining activities in the area, where the disease outbreak has been reported. And already, there are speculations that the new disease outbreak may somehow be related.
“Even though there are many speculations about the outbreak, some people are relating it to unprotected and illegal mining activities, but we cannot conclude now until the medical experts finish their work,” Isa-Dangulbi cautioned.