The World Health Organization said yesterday the cause of the frightening "mystery disease" that has killed at least 18 people in a town in Nigeria may be weed killer, AFP reports. The victims in Ode-Irele, located in the southwestern part of the state of Ondo, died within a day or so of exhibiting symptoms of headaches, blurry vision, and loss of consciousness, causing concern in an area that once battled Ebola. WHO spokesman Gregory Hartl tweeted yesterday that "current hypothesis is cause of the event is #herbicicdes [sic]. Tests done so far r negative for viral and bacterial infection." Officials have said that the symptoms don't appear similar to those of Ebola or other highly contagious diseases, Channels TV reports.
Tests were carried out at Lagos University Teaching Hospital, AFP notes. The state's commissioner for health, Dayo Adeyanju, told the news agency Saturday a total of 23 people have been affected by the illness so far. Adeyanju added, however, during a briefing with journalists yesterday that "the deaths might have resulted from a methanol poison" in the alcoholic drinks of some of the victims, per Channels TV. Hartl acknowledged in a tweet this morning that "Yes, alcohol poisoning is another possibility." (A mysterious "sleeping illness" recently struck a village in Kazakhstan.)