COTE D'IVOIRE: Unidentified illness kills 31
Infrastructure and sanitary conditions in northern Cote d'Ivoire have deteriorated since a brief civil war in 2002 divided the country
Dakar, 27 February 2007 (IRIN) - Health authorities in Côte d’Ivoire are investigating an acute illness in a northern village that has killed 31 people and affected at least 73 others.
People began to fall ill in the village of Diobala in the third week of December with symptoms including headache, high fever, neck and chest pain, and respiratory problems, according to a report by the Ministry of Health and Public Hygiene obtained by IRIN.
The illness progressed rapidly over the course of three to five days and the first death was reported on 18 December, the report said.
Villagers delayed reporting the illnesses to health authorities until 5 February. By then, 31 people had died among the 104 who had fallen ill, the report said. Victims in the village of 1,500 included men and women, young and old.
“Almost every family was touched” in the village, an official with the Seguela health department told IRIN. Seguela, 44km away, is the largest town near Diobala. Seguela is 450km north of the main city, Abidjan.
Local health authorities reported the deaths to officials in Abidjan and investigators went to Diobala 13-17 February. The team included specialists from the Pasteur Institute and the Ministry of Health and Public Hygiene.
They discovered that beginning in October animals in the village had begun falling ill. The report said 90 percent of the village’s poultry, as well as about 500 goats and sheep, had died.
Villagers consumed sick animals, but it was not immediately clear if this was how humans contracted the illness. Health authorities said patients treated with antibiotics responded well.
“They did an investigation and took blood samples and nasal swabs of the people, the poultry, the goats and the sheep,” the Seguela health official said. Water samples were also taken.
“Surveillance is continuing to see if other cases come up,” he said.
The last cases of human illness were reported on 14 February. There have been no reports of illness in neighbouring villages. People in the area have been told to quickly report any illnesses to local health authorities.
Côte d’Ivoire has been divided between a rebel-held north and government-run south since a brief civil war in 2002. As a result, humanitarian agencies say health and sanitary conditions in the north have deteriorated