The Benue State government on Monday confirmed the strange illness reported in Epeilo-Otukpa community of Ogbadibo Local Government Area of the state to be yellow fever.
Our correspondent reports that the state government last week raised an alarm over an unknown ailment ravaging the community such that the number of deaths increased to 20 at the weekend after the state Ministry of Health and Human Services had earlier on put the death toll at 17.
State Commissioner of Information, Culture and Tourism, Mrs Ngunan Addingi, while briefing journalists in Makurdi shortly after the State Executive meeting, said that people in the affected rural locality were dying from yellow fever.
Addingi, who said the confirmation was based on results of samples sent to Abuja for testing, appealed to the people of the community as well as neighbouring areas, including Okpokwu to avail themselves of the opportunity to get vaccinated against the disease.
She also called on the community and local government leadership to step up sensitisation in the areas to avoid misinformation.
She further urged people to avoid clustering.
Our correspondent recalled that the State Epidemiologist, Dr Sam Ngishe, had told newsmen in Makurdi by telephone on Saturday that three more deaths including the youth leader of the community were recorded after the 17 initially reported bringing the number to 20.
“All together, there have been 20 deaths and the state Ministry of Health is in the location and we have been able to move victims to different hospitals. We have collected samples and sent to 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 Enugu State has a situation of yellow fever, also Delta and Edo. And the presentation has been very unusual for this current episode of outbreak.
“So, our mind is in the direction of yellow fever. Of course, it’s a viral heamorragic condition. But we suspect yellow fever. When the result comes out, we will be able to say for sure what it is,” Ngishe had said.