Mysterious disease kills 89 people in South Sudan, WHO sends probe team

by Tulip Charowa

A WORLD Health Organization (WHO) taskforce has been sent to South Sudan to investigate an unidentified illness which has killed 89 people.

The country’s ministry of health reported that an unknown disease had killed scores of people in the northern town of Fangak in Jonglei state.

The WHO sent a rapid response team of scientists to the area, which is one of the worst hit by recent severe flooding, to collect samples from sick people, reports the BBC.

Local health officials in Fangak said initial samples from the sick returned negative results for cholera.

The country’s ministry of health reported that an unknown disease had killed scores of people in the northern town of Fangak in Jonglei state.

The WHO sent a rapid response team of scientists to the area, which is one of the worst hit by recent severe flooding, to collect samples from sick people, reports the BBC.

Local health officials in Fangak said initial samples from the sick returned negative results for cholera.

“We decided to send a rapid response team to go and do risk assessment and investigation; that is when they will be able to collect samples from the sick people – but provisionally the figure that we got was that there were 89 deaths,'” Sheila Baya, from the WHO, told the BBC.

Baya said the team of scientists had to reach Fangak via a helicopter due to severe flooding in the area, adding that the group are waiting for transport to return them to the capital Juba on Wednesday.

In the bordering state of Unity, severe floods have increased the spread of diseases such as malaria and caused malnutrition in children due to food shortages, Lam Tungwar Kueigwong, the state’s minister of land, housing and public utilities, said.

Oil from the fields in the region had contaminated the water, he said, leading to the death of domestic animals.

  • BBC
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