*WHO scientists say not angry god behind strange deaths in Ode-Irele

Pesticide poisoning was the likely cause of the mysterious deaths of at least 18 people in a southwestern Nigerian town earlier this week, the World Health Organization said Sunday.Oba-Olarewaju-Lebi

The “current hypothesis is cause of the event is herbicides”, WHO spokesman Gregory Hartl said in a Tweet.

“Tests done so far are negative for viral and bacterial infection,” he added.

The victims began showing symptoms early last week in what Ondo state spokesman Kayode Akinmade called a “mysterious disease”, prompting fears of a new infectious disease outbreak in a region ravaged by Ebola.
The victims, whose symptoms included headache, weight loss, blurred vision and loss of consciousness, died within a day of falling ill in the town of Ode-Irele, in southwestern Ondo state.

The Ondo state health commissioner, Dayo Adeyanju, told AFP Saturday that 23 people had been affected.

Akinmade said health officials and experts from the government and aid agencies, as well as WHO epidemiologists, had arrived in Ode-Irele to investigate the deaths.

The tests were carried out at the Lagos University Teaching Hospital, the WHO said.

A high chief of the town had attributed the deaths to the anger of the god of Molokun.

High Chief Moses Enimade, next in command to Oba Cornelius Olanrewaju-Lebi, debunked the rumour that the deaths were caused by strange disease or Ebola virus.

No fewer than 20 youths reportedly died of severe headaches and blindness in the town recently.

Enimade contended that some stubborn youths broke into the inner room of Molokun Shrine on April 15.

“Molokun is a deity of the land, only the Chief Priest and High Chief Gboguron are qualified to enter the shrine.’’

The chief said the youths entered the shrine and made away with traditional items in a bid to acquire extra-ordinary powers and engage in money ritual.

“They were not qualified to enter the room (shrine). They had to face death penalty’’; he emphasised.

“Because these youths want to be rich at all costs, they entered the sacred place and made away with traditional items and 20 of them have died as a result of their desperate acts,

“We have to appease the gods or else many will still die and we have to bury them according to tradition. Their corpses belong to the gods and will be exhumed if buried by their families.’’

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