Thursday, February 22, 2024

Benue strange disease’s death toll rises to 11

The Benue Government has continued to keep mum over what has been described as a “strange disease,” which has reportedly killed more than 10 persons in the state between January 30 and now.

The president-elect of the Igede National Youth Council, Mr. Andyson Egbodo, had alerted our Correspondent to the incident on January 30, saying the problem had been ongoing before he contacted PUNCH HealthWise.

Just on Monday, the UK Telegraph had reported that the yet-to-be-ascertained disease had killed 15, while Egbodo said he only knew of 11 fatalities so far.

The Senator representing Benue South Senatorial District at the National Assembly, Abba Moro, last week told the Daily Post that the number of persons affected by the strange disease had risen to 104.


The disease, it was learnt, caused vomiting, swelling and diarrhoea.

In a statement made available on Tuesday, Egbodo had expressed displeasure over the Benue government’s alleged failure to unravel the cause of the strange illness, which he said was still killing people at Oye-Obi, a fishing community in Obi Local Government Area of the state.

In a telephone conversation with our Correspondent on Tuesday, Egbodo alleged, “Two weeks after the state government picked two out of over 50 sick persons with the same case definition, there has been no categorical statement issued by the government with regard to the clinical investigations conducted so far.

“About six deaths have occurred in the last two weeks. Add that to the first four and note that several others are still down in pitiable inhuman condition, some in acutely insufficient private medical facilities located in the area and the others helplessly in their houses, waiting for death.

“All of them are manifesting same symptoms. How long will it take the government to tell us what is about to wipe out the entire settlement of Oye-Obi and the nature of the sickness, so that we can begin to mount hedges against its spread, if it is contagious?”

He called on the Benue State Government to “rise up to the Oye-Obi health challenge” and stop the high death rate in the area.

Egbodo commended Senator Moro for drawing the attention of the Senate to the strange ailment, urging the lawmaker representing the constituency at the Federal House of Representatives, Samson Okwu, to do same on the floor of the House “as a public matter of urgent importance.”


Moro had, in a Senate resolution, named a number of victims of the disease, who all allegedly died within 48 hours of contracting the illness.

The resolution urged the country’s health ministry to dispatch experts to the centre of the outbreak to find out more about the disease.

It also called for the Nigeria Centres for Disease Control to establish surveillance measures to contain its spread.

When our Correspondent contacted the Benue State Commissioner for Health, Dr. Sunday Ongbabo, on Tuesday evening, for comment via repeated phone calls, the calls rang out each time.

He also did not respond to a text message sent by our Correspondent to the same phone line.

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